Sint Maarten dumpsite verdict

PHILIPSBURG - On July 27th 2019, a positive verdict was rendered in the case of residents Barbara Cannegieter and Camiel Koster and law firm Bergman Zwanikken Snow Essed (BZSE) against Country St. Maarten, the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI. 
With an ultimatum date of May 1st 2020 put in place for the finalization and implementation of the Fire Suppression Plan for the landfill dumpsite, the government of Country St. Maarten has no choice but to comply or suffer daily penalties of Naf. 10,000.00 with a maximum of Naf. 10 million.
The Judge in the Court of First Instance ordered Country to St. Maarten to finalise the Fire Suppression Plan at the landfill dumpsite by May 1, 2020, at the latest. In case of noncompliance government will have to pay daily penalties of NAf. 10,000, with a maximum of NAf. 10 million, the Judge stated Friday. Upon the orders of the Court the penalties that may be forfeited will be for the benefit of Nature Foundation St. Maarten.
The Court decision in the injunction comes almost one year after St. Maarten residents Barbara Cannegieter and Camiel Koster, and law firm Bergman Zwanikken Snow Essed (BZSE) filed an injunction against Country St. Maarten, the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI, and former landfill management company Robelto and Son B.V.
In the injunction, which was later joined by the Prosecutor’s Office, plaintiffs requested that the Court order government and the former garbage dump operator to take effective measures to prevent the emission of smoke, gases and stench at the landfill, and to conduct measurements of the toxic fumes and make these public.
In case of non-compliance, the Judge was requested to attach to the verdict daily penalties of US $5,000, with a maximum of $1 million.
The Court rejected the claim against Robelto and Son, because during these court procedures government took dump management in its own hands. Therefore, Robelto could no longer be held liable in this case, the Judge stated in the verdict.
Cannegieter was pleased with the Court decision but said that in her opinion the May 1, 2020, deadline was too long. “But at least the decision keeps the pressure on to compel the government to do something. We did the best we could do. Thanks to Camiel Koster and Jelmer Snow and BZSE Law Firm for being co-plaintiffs, and guiding the way,” Cannegieter said in a Facebook comment.
With this court’s decision the hope is to not only enforce short term solutions but to also recognize the dire need to implement a long term plan for the St. Maarten landfill dumpsite. 
Barbara Cannegieter, Camiel Koster and law firm BZSE were represented in this case by attorneys Jelmer Snow and Camiel Koster of BZSE ATtorneys at Law I Tax Lawyers. The Country Sint Maarten, the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI was legally represented by attorneys Aernoud Kraaijeveld and Caroline van Hees of Gibson & Associates.

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