A tour of the New Providence Ecology Park (NPEP) yesterday revealed sweeping changes at the landfill, a project that has cost $10 million, according to officials.
In February, the government signed an agreement with NPEP, which comprises Waste Resources Development Group and Providence Advisors, for a $45 million multi-phased redevelopment of the New Providence Landfill.
What was previously mounds of garbage as far as the eye could see had become a clearly organized and clean operation, with visible garbage confined to a small area.
NPEP Project Manager Timothy Hodge said one of the first orders of business was consolidating the garbage and moving it away from the edges of the landfill.
There was no noticeable smell and there were no flies.
With large fires at the dump having been a problem for years, a number of steps have been taken to prevent and control potential fires.
NPEP acquired a rapid attack firetruck, and it was noted that there are weekly fire drills to help the team prepare for incidents Hodge said are bound to happen.
“We have had fire incidents out here and that’s a normal part of running a landfill,” he said.
Hodge added, “We catch small things before they become big things.”
He said tires were a significant problem when the company first took over the site, but the issue is now under control, with tires being shredded and used as subgrade in roads on site.
The recycling and reuse of waste materials is a heavy focus of NPEP.
In one section, processed green waste sat in piles. Hodge said they plan to more heavily explore the green waste options.
“We train our spotters and our operation to start to ask the drivers what they’ve got, where they’re coming from and over the course of time, they get better and better about identifying the good material,” Hodge said.
“That good material gets diverted down here to a pile.
“…Historically all that material just goes in the garbage, but we’re starting to pull that material out and segregate that material and turn it into new product to be reused.”
Hodge continued, “As we process these materials, it gets greatly reduced in size, and as you see, sort of blacker rows in the back, that could be turned into very good, fertile, vegetative soil, and that’s something we’d really like to focus on.”
He added, “Our estimate is really when we’re up and running on the green waste conversion, it could be up to 40 percent of the waste train is all material we can recover, reuse and recycle as part of that process.”
Hodge said the landfill gets lots of pallets due to the number of products imported into the country, and the team has found ways to make use of them on the site.
“We take these pallets,” he said.
“We chip them and grind them and we integrate these back into the landfill operation. In particular, in the wet season with rainy weather, it makes it hard for us to get the trucks into where they need to go, and that was one of the issues. The roads get muddy and mushy and everything.
“…We can use the wood chips to help build paths and actually get those trucks back in.”
Hodge said that in the longer term, they are considering plans to recover methane from the decomposition process on-site and using it to produce up to 1.5 megawatts of electricity that would go back to the grid. Asked about waste to energy plants, Hodge said NPEP is focusing on simpler options.
“Our perspective on this is our methodology relies on simple, sustainable solutions, and we think what we’re doing here is very positive, very stable and very secure. The methane capture is similarly environmentally very secure, very stable. It’s a very good method of carbon mitigation for emissions.
“…We see a lot of immediate promise with the compost and the recycling and the diversion, and we think it’s a very environmentally and financially and politically responsible thing to do that we can start doing right now.
“As we progress, if we start to see the data numbers go up, and we start to see the business environment improving for waste to energy, we’d consider it, but we’re trying to keep it simple, straightforward and plain on what we’re doing right now.”
Hodge said 65 Bahamians are employed at the site, and he has been very happy with their work.
“We’ve had an excellent experience with our Bahamian team, our Bahamian staff,” he said.
“…We’ve been extremely impressed and pleased with the folks we have. It’s been a great learning curve. These are good long-term environmental jobs out here, and we’re looking for people to be here for the full duration of the contract and the full duration of the project.”
Officials have said that the landfill will be converted into “a purposefully engineered landfill and material recovery facility” featuring a park.