POND ISLAND--The country will have to wait to learn whether the burgeoning solid waste management issue will be tackled by a waste-to-energy or incineration plant.

  The data needed to make an informed decision on the way forward are sorely lacking. The acquiring of data is expected to commence soon with the installation of the garbage scale at the dump.

  Environment and Infrastructure Minister Miklos Giterson said once data become available the right solution – waste-to-energy or incineration – can be made by government.

  The World Bank, the administrator of the Dutch financed St. Maarten Recovery Trust Fund, has provided government a timeline for the preparation of a sustainable waste management project. The project preparation starts in January 2019 with upgrading the existing waste roadmap.

  “The preparation of a sustainable solution for St. Maarten’s waste problem will take time, expertise and significant funding. There is no easy fix,” said Giterson on Wednesday following a trip to Washington DC to meet with the World Bank. “I hope, however, that with these updates the people of St. Maarten can see that this government is fully committed to our responsibility.”

  Meanwhile, the grant agreement for the long-awaited Debris Management Project is expected to be finalised in the coming weeks.  Activities under this project, which has a budget of US $25 million, include the collection of remaining hurricane and demolition debris, and the beautification of certain public areas focusing on landscaping after the debris has been removed.

  Debris processing and disposal, including an environmentally-sound low-cost solution to separation and management using various methods of disposal, including recycling and reuse, are also included in the project. 

  Vessel recovery and salvaging of the remaining vessels found in Simpson Bay lagoon and immediate surrounding areas will also be covered in the project.

  The fire suppression, rehabilitation, and upgrading of the debris storage on the landfill also forms part of the project. This sub-component will finance the reduction of risks through extinguishing fires at the disposal and debris storage sites, re-contouring, site rehabilitation and restoration activities. All of this would allow for better storage, separation, and organisation of debris for recycling, processing, or disposal.

  This component will include a combination of upgrading the sites to improve organisation and layout, and the introduction of improved operational practices that would enhance separation, improve storage, and reduce the environmental and safety risks of operation.