Bad roads and local scandals overshadow other problems as Costa Ricans cast votes for municipal officials Sunday, but in some cantons there is another burning issue.
Candidates in six cantons have signed pledges to work against proposals to incinerate garbage. The candidates include some from national-level parties. The candidates are on record supporting what is being called integral management of waste. This is basically recycling.
Garbage is a major municipal problem in Costa Rica. Some cantons simply are running out of landfill space or the haulage costs are becoming prohibitive.
Incineration is not just about burning garbage. There are four proposals that are being considered now, and each includes plans to use the incinerator heat to generate electricity, which would be sold to the state power company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.
Four projects already are being considered for approval. They are in Carrillo and proposed by Coopeguanacaste, in El Coyol and proposed by Wastelectric, in León Cortes and proposed by Agropecuaria Setenta Cuarenta y Ocho and another in La Uruca, according to Hacia Basura Cero-CR, which opposes them.
The U.S. firm Wastelectric says it is planning to invest $390 million.
Other projects may be officially proposed for Parrita, Coyol, La Carpio, Atenas and Pavas, the organization said.
The canton of León Cortés has been a battleground on this issue with the local Grupo Ecologista opposing incineration.
The dispute now is more about land ownership than the benefits or perils of
incineration. The firm does not yet havetitle to the land it wants, according to environmentalists there. They seek to have the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental throw out the application. That agency has final approval.
The canton is in the coffee-growing Valle de los Santos south of Desamparados, north of and east of Aserrí.
Candidates for mayor in León Cortés from Movimiento Libertario, the Partido Liberación Nacional and the local Pactico Acción Ciudadana have signed the pledge to oppose incineration, said Hacia Basura Cero-CR. Some of the candidates in Curridabat, Santo Domingo, Pococí, San Pedro and Belén also have pledged to oppose incineration, said the organization.
The Secretaría Técnica has frozen the applications it has until May. The incineration projects probably would not be successful without the support of the local municipality.
Much of the stated concern involves possible ill effects on the residents from incinerator emissions. There also is a dose of the philosophy to reduce consumption and promote recycling. There are a number of incineration technologies, and each proposal has to be considered independently.