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Work to start on landfill solution by March 2023

Wednesday 25 May 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Work to start on landfill solution by March 2023
Cook Islands Party’s Albert Nicholas says by March 2023 a contract to start work on a landfill solution will be awarded. Photo: Caleb Fotheringham/22052403

Work on a solution to Rarotonga’s landfill which according to one Opposition MP spills rubbish is set to begin in March 2023.

The topic was raised in parliament by Opposition deputy leader William Heather on Tuesday, who said no money was appropriated towards a waste incinerator in the 2022/23 budget.

A waste incinerator would reduce the volume of waste in the Rarotonga landfill.

Heather told Cook Islands News the Opposition was pushing for an incinerator to be built. He said the Aronga Mana (traditional leaders) were also pushing for one.

“They’re (Puaikura Aronga Mana) concerned, they are very, very concerned because all that rubbish when the wind blows it all washes down the stream comes down to the sea and broken glass as well,” Heather said.

“That affects the village and that’s why we’re concerned.

“The Aronga Mana have already made a statement to government, deal with this otherwise we’re going to shut.”

Heather said the Government had promised the Aronga Mana they would address the issue, but still had not.

“They should have some money in that budget, I know we are struggling but they made that promise to the Aronga Mana of Puaikura, I didn’t make that promise they did, so where is that promise?”

Democratic Party deputy leader William Heather is pushing for a waste incinerator at the Rarotonga landfill and was disappointed it was not mentioned in the 2022/23 budget. Photo: Caleb Fotheringham/22052402

Albert Nicholas from the Cook Islands Party took the question in Parliament.

Nicholas said, as a small island nation the use of a landfill was not the best option the Cook Islands currently had.

“Although incineration was considered to be the preferred best option, in an assessment that was done about three years ago we are open to other options.”

Nicholas said gasification, shipping waste offshore and turning waste into energy were all options being looked at.

“To that end Infrastructure Cook Islands is putting together a terms of reference for expressions of interest to businesses that may be interested in providing appropriate solutions to our landfill waste.

“It’s not a product that’s sitting on the shelf, whoever wins the tender will have to come obviously here and build the actual incinerator itself.”

Expressions of interest open on June 1 this year and will close on June 27.

Nicholas said by September 30 a tender should be issued, and by March 2023 a contract to start work would be issued.

He said companies out of Malaysia, Germany and the United Kingdom were all potential options to either build an incinerator or solve the waste issue in another way.  

The 2022/23 budget did not have funding available to address the landfill problem.

However, Nicholas said he hoped for the funding to come from the Infrastructure Trust Fund or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which are both from New Zealand. 

He said the Cook Islands may possibly be able to get the entire incinerator funded.

“But I think there are a number of options that is available to us for funding, I think we may have other options,” he said.

“The incinerator that we’re looking at is not only an incinerator to cater for our daily waste concerns but also to deal with our historical waste which is the waste which has been buried.”

Nicolas said he did not know how much the solution would cost at this point at time. 

He said incineration could make a tonne of waste fit into a one litre bucket.