Waste Management in Colón

Professor Vivian Thomson, Dr. Stanley Heckadon-Moreno, and Professor Janet Herman are collaborating on research related to waste management in Colón, Panamá.  Several UVa students have been involved in this work since it was initiated in 2009.

The goal of this work is to provide information for decision-makers in Colón who have wanted for some time to improve their waste management system.  Since at least the 1940s, when the US military occupied the canal area, Colón's trash has been dumped without environmental controls at a site known variously as Mt. Hope or El Dompe.  That pattern continues.

© 2011 University of Virginia · All photos by Panama Initiative students and faculty ·Environmental Thought and Practice · 434.924.3964 ·  Last update: 5 Nov 2011
A scavenger at El Dompe in Colón.

In July 2009 Reem Alamiri (ETP '2008) completed some initial waste management research in Colón.  Her work is described on the Student Fellows page.

In June 2010 Professors Thomson and Herman traveled to Panama with three recent ETP graduates, Courtney Mallow, Elizabeth Ritch, and Peter Swigert.  There they presented in public (in Spanish) the results of student and faculty research into waste management alternatives.  Among those attending this public presentation were the Mayor of Colón, the director of the local waste management firm, city council members, university students and faculty, and members of the public.

This work involved a team research effort by ten ETP fourth-year students.  The US Environmental Protection Agency and its contractor, RTI International, assisted this work by running a sophisticated waste management decision tool called MSW-DST.  Panama Initiative students and faculty compared the potential impacts of various waste management strategies in Colón.

The report that formed the basis of our June 2010 presentation can be found here, in English (full report) and in Spanish (Executive Summary and Conclusions).
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