Each month, it’s estimated that thousands of pounds of illegal waste are dumped in remote areas across various Family Islands. On Grand Bahama, beaches, service roads and other sparsely populated areas have long been the target of illegal dumpers, who use them to offload everything from old furniture and appliances to construction debris.
The practice of dumping ‘in the bush’ in addition to being illegal under law, also has far reaching implications for the environment, public health and community development.
As part of its mandate, the Keep Grand Bahama Clean Committee (KGBCC) has long advocated for the use of legally sanctioned options for waste disposal and has worked along with other organizations to raise awareness about the impact of illegal dumping and promote cleaner and greener communities.
“Not only does illegal dumping raise significant environmental concerns, but there is also a real cost associated with cleaning up these areas,” explained Olethea Gardiner Co-Chair KGBC and Environmental Inspector at the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
“At beaches tourists see a nasty island filled with left-over food, empty cans and of course, bottles which we all know cause forest fires. The dumping of cars, tires, refrigerators and such allow contaminates to seep right into our water, and so we all will feel the effect of these chemicals.”
Despite the best efforts of the KGBCC, the practice of illegal dumping remains extremely prevalent. During a routine inspection, members of the KGBC and the Building and Development Services Department of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited came face-to-face with a repeat offender.
On April 10, authorities were called in to investigate the actions of a group of indiscriminate dumpers, who were caught offloading an oversized load of garbage materials using a marked company truck.
“In this case, the persons involved attempted to change directions not to be seen so they knew what they were doing was illegal” noted Gardiner “and now they will face formal charges in the courts in addition to being required to clean up all the debris and trash which they dumped.”
Residents are reminded not to approach illegal dumpers, but to contact the police and take pictures of those dumping, and their license plates.
“Concerned residents can call the police or call our Help Line at 352-2000 or via the Freeport Report App, which is available for mobile download in both the Apple Store and Google Play stores,” noted Gardiner. “Fines can range from $1,000 or more and we encourage everyone to properly dispose of their waste at the Pine Ridge landfill to avoid a similar outcome.”