The Dump

Published on: Jan 21, 2019
Introduction
Typically, we do not use our weblog for pending court cases. However, in this specific matter regarding the Dump, we have decided to make an exception. First of all, in this court case, BZSE, as well as one of its partners, Camiel Koster, are plaintiffs. Therefore, we are not talking about a case of our clients. The third plaintiff, Barbara Cannegieter, has given permission to publish this weblog. The second reason to update the publish about this case is strategic. Unlike most other cases, we have consciously decided to seek publicity, as it keeps much-needed pressure on Government to act.

The legal aspects of the Dump case
The three plaintiffs were fed up with the hindrance by Government to address the growing problem of the Dump. The emission from the Dump in the form of smoke, stench, and gasses had become the standard in 2017, even before Irma, and had become unbearable.
The plaintiffs have based their claim on the protections they can infer from the provisions that deal with “neighborhood laws” as anchored in the Civil Code. Furthermore, they argue that Government and the dump operator can be held liable based on “tort”, or an “unlawful act”. Article 5:37 of the Civil Code stipulates that the owner of a parcel of land may not cause hindrance in a tortious manner to the owners of other parcels of lands, such as, but not limited to noise, smoke, gasses, stench, and tremors.

The court case so far
On September 27, 2018, the first hearing in this injunction was held. Government agreed that it would present a road map to the Court to solve the smoke, stench, and gas problem. Furthermore, it was agreed that Government would give the plaintiffs and the Court a monthly update on the progress. Up to that point, Government has done so, and a second hearing was held on December 14, 2018. During that hearing it seemed that Government had indeed started preparations to solve the problem at hand. However, since the World Bank is the financier of the project, Government has to comply with the many rules, regulations, and guidelines of the World Bank. As a result, it appears that Government is confronted with a lot of bureaucracy, causing some delays along the way. On the other hand, the plaintiffs have more confidence in a solution that is supervised by the World Bank than if Government would have tried to solve this problem alone as no previous Government has been able (or willing) to solve the smoke, gas, and stench problem in the past years.

Next steps
Government will have to give its next update on its progress on January 25, 2019. The plaintiffs will continue to keep the pressure on Government to ensure that the smoke problem from the Dump is solved as soon as feasible.