Elected representatives react to revelations of illegal wastewater dumping by the National Roads Authority.
Cayman 27 cameras captured an NRA vacuum truck illegally discharging its contents into the wetlands along the Linford Pierson Highway in June. The bombshell news report triggered a Water Authority investigation that revealed the scope of the illicit operations and found cancer-causing compounds in sludge and water samples. It also forced a change in policy.
“The question was raised and so we acted on it and, now we have a protocol in place to deal with it,” said Infrastructure Minister Hon. Joey Hew.
The NRA now disposes of the sludge and wastewater pumped out of drainage wells at the George Town landfill.
“We acted right away in getting the water tested, thankfully there was no real harm found,” added Mr. Hew.
Testing did find benzo(a)pyrene, a known carcinogen, and other heavy metals in excess of Florida standards. But Mr. Hew told Cayman 27 the findings were relatively benign.
“The levels that were recorded were quite low,” said Mr. Hew.
“I read the report and came to the conclusion that it was, you know, there was nothing specifically for anyone to really worry about in terms of the levels of toxins or stuff in there,” said Finance Minister Hon. Roy McTaggart.
Mr. McTaggart is the elected representative for George Town East, where thousands of gallons of well waste had been discharged over several years at the Linford Pierson site. He said he’s relieved with the outcome.
“We don’t need to pollute our wetlands any further than that, then we have, so I’m happy to see the changes made and relieved also with the report that shows that everything should be OK,” said Mr. McTaggart.
“I’m not too concerned about it,” said Opposition Leader Hon. Ezzard Miller.
Mr. Miller acknowledged that the NRA discharged well waste in direct contravention of the Water Authority Law, yet in this instance, he is not calling for accountability.
“I don’t think they’re breaking the intention of the law, I think the intention of the law is if you pumped out a septic tank, right, and you pumped out waste that was overflowing from a septic tank, and that is dumped in the [wetlands], that’s an entirely different thing,” said Mr. Miller.
Minister Hew said the presence of benzo(a)pyrene in well waste samples, likely the byproduct of traffic emissions highlights the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally.