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Locals Protests Pay-For-Junk Plan At Blacktip Island Dump

dump fees

Blacktip Island residents may soon have to pay for items they remove from the island’s landfill if proposed legislation is passed.

 

A government proposal to charge for items taken from Blacktip Island’s garbage dump sparked a protest Friday in the small Caribbean community.

Known as ‘Home Depot’ to locals, the dump is often the first stop for local DIY projects.

Authorities say the new fees are necessary to fund the island’s public works. The proposal calls for repurposed garbage to be sold by weight or the assessed value of items, whichever is greater.

“Public services here are strapped,” landfill supervisor Harry Wrasse said. “We can’t afford to let people just walk away with junk anymore. We’ve got to squeeze all the juice we can from our oranges, whether folks like it or not.

“End of the day, if it’s in the government landfill, it belongs to the government,” Wrasse said. “Dumps are expensive, what with salary, benefits, fines and having to buy new garbage trucks every six months when our drivers get drunk and drive into the booby pond.”

Locals picketing the dump Friday afternoon disagreed.

“It’s the public landfill. It’s the people’s garbage,” resident Palometa Fischer said. “Assigning arbitrary values to stuff that’s been discarded is modern-day piracy.

“This is a case of one tin-plated government functionary abusing what little power they’ve given him,” Fischer said. “And you think it’s coincidence there’s no system in place to keep track of the fees? Harry and his cronies’re pocketing the money.”

Other locals were concerned about the fees’ effects on their lifestyle.

“Dump diving’s a Blacktip tradition,” resident Ginger Bass said. “Now there’ll be no more salvaged tin roofing, no more fire pits made from washer drums, no more expired fire extinguisher fights.

“We’re telling everybody to boycott the place, keep their junk,” Bass said. “Government honchos are talking out of both side of their mouths. First they say we have to reuse and recycle, then they make it harder for us to do that. There’s more here than meets the eye.”

Others in the community are taking further steps to undermine the planned fees.

“If a washing machine or junked car never makes it to the dump, well, the government can’t charge for it, can they?” Fischer said. “We’re making a list of who has what to throw away.”

“Worst case, we’ll start our own co-op dump where folks can swap stuff for free,” Fischer said.

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Divemasters Build Green Scooters From Repurposed Refuse

Roughed-out wheels and scuba cylinders for Re-Cycle scooters sit ready at a Blacktip Island workshop Thursday.

Roughed-out wheels and scuba cylinders for Re-Cycle scooters sit ready at a Blacktip Island workshop Thursday.

A pair of Blacktip Island divemasters have built a working prototype motor scooter made of repurposed items from the island’s garbage dump in an effort to reduce environmental damage on the small Caribbean island.

The scooter features wooden wheels made from downed power poles, a body fashioned from a condemned scuba cylinder and is fueled by biodiesel salvaged from island restaurant deep fryers.

“On a little island, sustainability’s the elephant in the booby pond,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster and scooter co-creator Gage Hoase said. “The dump’s a ticking time bomb. So are all the cars burning fossil fuels and leaking motor oil.

“We’re killing two birds with one gadget here,” Hoase said. “There’s all kinds of good stuff in the dump, and every one of these scooters on the road means one less car.”

“We’re calling it The Re-Cycle,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager and co-creator Finn Kiick said. “The engine’s totally hermetic and powered by a perpetual motion hydraulic pump. Just push off, and vroom! Away you go. We wanted to name it The Flintstone, but the Hanna-Barbera suits tore us a new one over that.

“Each bike’ll be unique, depending on what people throw away,” Kiick said. “If a load of lawn furniture gets chucked, well, the next cycle’ll be a recumbent number and look like a chaise lounge. The beauty’s each one’ll be a document of what it was like to be alive on Blacktip at that certain time and place.”

Critics, however, have waxed less poetic.

“They’re not putting that junk on the public road,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s no vehicle I.D. number, no way to register it, no way to insure it. And it’s not safe. People try to ride that thing, they’ll fill up the clinic before the day’s out.”

Other critics focused on the vehicle’s potential economic impact.

“Some rolling garbage dump that don’t use gas won’t help the island economy,” Skerritt Fuel president Ferris Skerritt said. “Getting by on a shoestring like some folks are, this thing could sink us all.”

Hoase and Kiick were quick to disagree.

“These bikes’ll sell like crazy,” Hoase said. “How can that be bad for the economy? And the rental market’s unmined gold for the taking.”

Kiick was more philosophical.

“Blacktip’s a chill tropical island. Who doesn’t want to come ride a scooter on a tropical island where no one has to know about it? And if the Re-Cycle falls apart, well, we’ve sped up the composting process, then, haven’t we?”

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