Amidst environmental and health concerns surrounding the Cherokee dumpsite, a Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) representative instructed the South Abaco District Council to “immediately shut down” the site and relocate waste disposal for the area.
Senior Deputy Director at the DEHS, Thomasina Wilson said that the Cherokee dumpsite is “an environmental hazard; it’s in a really deplorable state.”
She said, “It needs to be immediately shut down. It’s also right near the sea – I understand that when tide is high you have an overflow of sea water, so that mixed with the waste that’s biodegrading is causing a lot of leachate mix, and it’s a lot of contamination which is bringing about a lot of health hazards to the community.”
“What needs to happen here is they need to immediately close it, and relocate somewhere inland; that would be at least a temporary solution until the government can decide what they are going to do with the constructed Cherokee transfer station which was constructed sometime back and was never used,” she said.
Ms. Wilson said that the Council asked her to come and make some recommendations as to what to do with their waste disposal situation.
She said she is not surprised that communities have returned to disposing of waste the way they have done for years because the government has implemented solutions but has stopped short of completing those solutions.
She said residents need to now be more environmentally conscious and be aware of the impacts waste disposal has on their community and their health.
“All this is a result of poor waste management practices, so we need to go forward as a nation to be more environmentally conscious in how we deal with waste management.”
“Waste is not going anywhere,” she said. “This is not something that is here today and gone tomorrow; this is going to continue to be an issue even generations after us. So we need to put in place things that we can manage for our future generations.”
She said that while finances may be an issue residents need to take the initiative to “clean our own backyard” and assist until the government is able to do their part.
Jacquelyn Estevez, Chief Councillor for the South Abaco District Council, said “We have an extremely tight budget and we have three dump sites, and we are just trying to pull something out of the hat to maintain all three of those.”
She said that she is very confident that the residents along with local government will come in “with our shoes and our gloves and whatever we need to assist in getting this [dump site] closed.”
“I think it can happen – closing the dump site by the end of the month – because the township has proactive people and the Cherokee people are very resilient and they will come together and assist’” she said.
Ms. Estevez added that The Abaco Club at Winding Bay has been very supportive “pitching in and helping us”.