With just about nine to 10 years of life left in the Deglos landfill the conversation about how to deal with the island’s waste is accelerating.
To understand what authorities face regarding landfills in the country, one must first get an understanding of recent historical facts surrounding sites for the disposal of waste materials in Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia in recent times had two landfills, the one in Deglos to handle waste from the north and one in Vieux Fort to handle waste disposal in the south.
The Deglos landfill is today the primary landfill on the island, why, because the previous administration in 2019 closed the landfill in Vieux Fort after 23 years of operation, a decision which in part was linked to the DSH Agreement, a contentious agreement at the time.
The Vieux Fort landfill, after its closure, became a transfer station, meaning that all household and commercial waste from the south, starting from Dennery, is trucked to a specialised building on the Vieux Fort landfill. The waste is then transferred into 45-foot walk in floor containers and transported to the Deglos landfill, an operation that is costing the Government of Saint Lucia millions of dollars. Trucks, daily, transport three loads of waste to the Deglos landfill.
“It has cost the Government of Saint Lucia somewhere in the region of $2 million dollars just to haul waste from Vieux Fort to Deglos,” Sustainable Development Minister Shawn Edward told reporters this week, during a tour of the Deglos landfill, adding that this money could have been used in other areas of national development to provide relief for Saint Lucia citizens.
He said that in an environment where the government does not have too much physical space in which to maneuver, and to roll out programmes with the rapidity that it would have liked, as an incoming administration, this cost would be something government would have to review.
The idea being pursued by the authorities is to make Saint Lucia landfill free by 2030. Toward that end, pyrolysis units specially designed for the disintegration of waste were introduced on island, the idea being to place them close to various waste collection points.
Twenty of these units were ordered, sadly only four are in operation today and they too have problems.
Lauriannus Lesporis, acting general manager of Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority Tuesday, explained that the pyrolysis units, which cost approximately $11 million have had no effect in reducing waste at the landfill.
He said four of the units have been in operation from February of this year “and we have had a number of issues with those. As a matter of fact, only one of the four is operational.”
Lesporis said that the units are not performing at the rate one expects of them “so there is actually no reduction of waste being transported to Deglos landfill.”
The government, along with The Saint Lucia Waste Management Authority will soon roll out plans that will involve decreasing waste coming into the landfill with the long term goal being to make Saint Lucia land filled free by 2030.