photo: Sharina Henriquez

PHILIPSBURG – “I suffer from chronic sinusitis, and allergies. If you go to the doctors they will tell you that it is related to the dump.” Barbara Cannegieter faces the Government of Sint Maarten, and the exploiter of the dump in the center of Sint Maarten in court tomorrow.

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By Tim van Dijk

The case is a strong one, according to Cannegieter. Not only is the government violating laws, there is also testimony from other inhabitants who suffer because of the dump or are getting sick because of it. She filed the case together with Camiel Koster, and the law firm BZSE where Koster is employed as a lawyer.

“I’m doing this for myself”, says Cannegieter. She does admit that it will help other inhabitants too. But Cannegieter has been protesting the dump for years, and has noticed that people mostly complain when there’s a big fire but don’t do much about it. Even the people who live next door to the dump don’t do much about it, she says. Cannegieter lives in a villa on the hill overlooking the dump. There’s a mist in her garden on most days, made up out of the fumes from the dump.

5000 dollar a day fine
She’s no longer interested in the long-term solutions proposed by the current Government of Sint Maarten, or those that came before it. “Solutions such as better trash management, a waste-to-energy power plant, or closing the dump are all great. But I want a short term solution. I want the smoke to stop now.”

With the court case, they are trying to force the government to find a solution within 3 months. That means that the government, and the exploiter of the dump Robelto and Son have to take immediate measures to stop the smoke, smell, and the discharge of gasses. If they fail to do so, a penalty clause of 5000 dollars per day with a maximum of 1 million dollars has been requested.