For over 3 years, Belize City residents have been plagued by the conditions at the Garbage Dump Site at mile 3 on the Western Highway.
It is a topic which made the news very regularly when the situation got out of control, but tonight, the news is that the dump site is now a model of proper waste disposal.
Today, it was reopened by the Solid Waste Management Authority after being complete remodeled and 7News was there.
Daniel Ortiz has that report.
Daniel Ortiz reporting
The Belize City Dump site has been a huge problem for years. You may remember that consistently since 2009, the site has been a health hazard because of recurring fires.
Gilroy Lewis - Project Director, Solid Waste Management Authority
"If you will recall, here where we stand is the great Belize City dump site. A place where fires became an annual event; an event that we seemed unable to control and perceived as inevitable every time the Easter comes around. Every time when it's dry season, we have some tremendous fires out here, the media is here, even in helicopters and so on and so on; that's changed now with the Belize transfer station."
Nolan Michael - Chairman, Solid Waste Management Authority
"Three and a half years ago, we had an open garbage dump site, three and a half years ago, that opened dump site was situated within a few hundred yards of the Caribbean Sea, and within a few hundred yards of other natural water bodies passing in the Belize City area. Three and a half years ago, the Belize City was engulfed in toxic smoke from the burning of that open dump site. Three and a half years ago, garbage from that site had encroached onto the George Price Highway."
Dion Leslie - Councilor, City Hall, Sanitation
"Belize City residents remember that almost every year, it was a seasonal thing of where the dump site would catch on fire and maybe not due to human error or due to natural causes, but it was costly, to the Belize City council. The last major fire that we had, two to three four years ago, cost approximately close to a million dollars."
That was in addition the fact that the garbage was not being effectively managed and it was terror to the residents in its near vicinity due to the putrid odors, and the stifling possibly toxic smoke whenever it caught on fire. That's all in the past now, and today the location has been completely revitalized and remodeled to be the envy of other municipalities when trying to responsibly deal with the city's waste. It is now a transfer station where all your garbage makes a stop only to separate the useful components.
"This 600 square meter of transfer station will receive garbage collected from household, commerce, business institutions and non processed industrial waste."
Tyrone Chimilio - Communications Officer, Solid Waste Management Authority
"What we have here is the Belize City transfer station, what happens when the trucks come in, the compartment truck is going to tip the load on the floor, and what will happen there, is that the informal workers within the station, they're going to separate the waste into paper, plastics and whatever else that is there. The residual garbage that is there, we have what we call a front end loader. After the waste is sorted, we'll come and pick up the residual garbage and it's going to take it through the hopper; when it's through the hopper, it goes into a forty foot container trailer, and when that is full, that will be taken up to original sanitary land fill at mile 24 on the George Price Highway."
And the city residents, who used to scavenge in the site to fight waste that could be valuable, will be properly employed, and they will get to work under better conditions doing the same jobs that they’ve been doing for years.
"The informal workers, we refer to them as scavengers - but they're needed and that they will do, they will come in and when the waste is tipped on the floor, they'll just separate the plastics, the organic matter, the papers and whatever else is hazardous waste material. They will have an actual job to go through the whole social security system and be covered so the project is beneficial. You can actually see the maturation of our waste management practices that we have here in Belize and this transfer station is the evidence of that."
"The administrative building is equipped with reception area, staff offices, kitchenette, meeting room and bathroom facilities and this end of the administrative building, we have bathrooms facilities for field workers, male and female equipped with showers and lockers so that whenever they are finished working here at the transfer station, they could go into their facility and then take a shower, change up and go home."
The day to day operations will be done by the company called PASA. They will manage the Transfer Station, and they will monitor the informal workers as the garbage is being sorted into the different groups of recyclables and non-recyclables.
Ariel Mitchell - Representative, PASA Belize Limited
"With the recyclables, we haven't really worked out all the details but we will either the company PASA Belize will buy it from the people who are sorting out the garbage or we will have the people who they are selling to right now, pay them for it but that is just an opportunity for us to give legitimate employment to people who are presently doing the same work but this time under more hygienic conditions."
Mitchell also explained PASA’s stake in the entire operations
Ariel Mitchell - Representative, PASA Belize Limited
"The arrangement is that the solid waste management authority, will pay PASA based on tonnage, we will base on every ton of garbage as delivered to the mile 24 facility, is what PASA will be paid on."
If you are worried how well the facility will run, the authorities say that it was well planned out, and it will be able to handle the city’s garbage problems.
"We’re expecting to have at least four to five trips to the land fill per day. That means that the facility in the short term will be handing from around one hundred tons to one hundred and twenty tons of solid waste that is being generated in the Belize City area, so in terms of capacity, we have that covered here."
The value of the completed works on the Belize City Transfer Station is estimated at 1.4 Million US dollars.