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Nicoya’s Ministry of Health will Close the Nosara Dump
Destination of the Trash Remains Unknown

By Pinar Istek

The problematic dump in Nosara, which has managed to survive for almost 14 years, will be closed on May 10th, 2011 by an order from the Nicoya’s Ministry of Health and approved by Minister Luisa Avila. According to the notification sent to the municipality by the Department of Health, the dumping ground of Nosara doesn’t fulfill the legal standards and “puts the public health at risk.”

The municipality of Nicoya is given 30 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) to fulfill the requirements of the Ministry of Health, which are “To provide proper recollection, carriage and arrangement of the solid waste for all the habitants of the canton Nicoya, at a place which is properly authorized by the Ministry of Health”; also “To guarantee that the service of recollection of the solid waste in the district of Nicoya is provided in a selective, accessible, periodical and efficient form for all the residents” Deadline for the municipality is May 10th.


Outside the dump, there can be seen solid waste under a sign that reads "we protect the earth."

The operators of the dump, Arnulfo Espinoza Castrillo and his son Alexander, have been given 25 business days to fulfill all the legal documents required by the Health Minister, which will end on May 6th.The failure of following the ordered procedure by the Ministry of Health will cause dispatch of both the Espinozas and the municipality to Public Ministry.

The Dark History
Trying to figure out the story behind the dump is a challenge. The first question that arises is: Who is responsible for providing this public service?

Currently, it is run as a private business by the Espinozas under the name of the company MICROSAN. The title to the land where the dump is located is not held by them.

According to Alexander Espinoza, the land was given by an association called Amigos de Nosara in 1996. However, this association dissolved in 2008.

Randy Cortez, the vice president of Nosara Chamber of Tourism said “The area where (the dump) is located, it doesn’t belong to municipality and it doesn’t belong to the Espinozas. It belongs to the Nosara Civic Association (NCA)”. Marcel Schaerer, the president of the NCA and a consultant of the Amigos Liquidation Group said “Amigos de Nosara has ‘possession’ of the dump Land.”Furthermore, he commented "that while the NCA has ownership of this land now, we are still waiting for the paperwork to be completed for the title which is needed to accomplish the goal of donating the dump to the municipality.


On the way to the dump, it is possible to see garbage, thrown out outside the dump area.

Organic, metal, plastic waste, all mixed together. Marcel Schaerer, the
president of the Nosara Civic Association, commented that this is how
your garbage shouldn't be.

The NCA is not interested in holding the title because this is such a big responsibility.” Moreover, Schaerer stated that "legally, no one has the right to collect trash, except the municipalities. The existing dump is illegal because no one has a registered title."  

According to Marcos Avila, the syndic of Nosara, who is also the president of the Nosara Development Association, it is normal that nobody has the legal ownership, because where the dump is located is a part of what is called the “green zones” of Nosara, and green zones and parks can’t be owned by private individuals because they belong to the state.

What does the law say?
Article 8 of Law 8839, the Law for Waste Management states that, “The municipalities will be responsible for the complete waste management generated in their district.” This is also stated in Article 7 of the Regulation of the Waste Management.

Additionally the Ministry of Health stated that “there is no collection of solid waste (by the Nicoya Municipality)”, therefore “This breaks the existing law.”


On the way to the dump, it is possible to see garbage, thrown out outside the dump area.

As the law calls for the municipality’s attention to the issue, Mayor Marco Jimenez said that “it is everybody’s responsibility.” Yet during his campaign for mayor in November 2010, Marco Jimenez had promised to help with the dump problem in Nosara during a local meeting in August 2010 that was organized at salon FUCAN in Nosara.

Today, approximately two months after taking office, Jimenez’s answer for the solution of the dump issue is: “Obviously, we won’t solve it this year. I don’t know. At this point, I don’t know. Where is the money? It’s been only one and a half month since I have been here. In one and half months, I can’t solve all the problems of the canton, which are left from the previous five and a half years. Next year we will try to solve this problem, but this year I entered the municipality with a budget that I didn’t prepare. This year’s budget was prepared in September of last year. And it didn’t include anything for the Nosara dump.”

Jimenez also advised the Nosarans to get organized. He said “What are the residents of Nosara going to do? Are they organized? Is the Nosara community organized? I agree that something should be done. Is Nosara getting organized or do they only ask for help?”

When she was asked what the Nosarans will do after the dump closure, Rosibel Vargas Barrantes, Nicoya Area Health Director of Ministry of Health said “That’s an answer that the municipality has to give. They are the operating part. I am the director. In this case, the Ministry of Health will lead the municipality in operation.”

Other Side of the Coin
Arnulfo Espinoza Castrillo refused to sign the Ministry of Health notification. He said, “What they want to do is to evict us from the land. Every four years (when the government personnel changes), we have the same problem.” He claimed that that’s why he didn’t want to sign the presented document.

His son Alexander Espinoza insinuated that others stand to benefit from the closure of the dump, suggesting that Marcos Avila or one of his associates might profit by getting involved in the trash disposal business.


The entrance of the current dump

While Avila denied this claim, he said, “As Nosara Development Association, our interest is to save the land where the dump is located now - which is a part of green zones and surrounded with a lot more green zones.” Moreover, “The association and the municipality are trying to install a recycling center for this dump problem on a land near EBAIS (Health Clinic) in Nosara town.” He added that they are waiting for the approval of the land by the biologist of the municipality, Elizabeth Férnandez Ramírez.

Alexander Espinoza said that they already started their efforts to fulfill requirements that the Ministry of Health proposed. “Even if we do everything, they will ask more. Because they want to close (the dump),” he said.

Possible Solutions
There are different opinions within the community. The syndic, Marcos Avila said that, “Landfill should be set up. There is no other solution. There is no exit.”

Cortez from the Chamber of Tourism thinks that “We all need to organize (a) movement here. I think nobody wants to put the finger in. Municipality needs to help us. We are part of Nicoya. We need their support.”


Different types of solid waste, all mixed together, waits to be separated at the dump.

Marcel Schaerer, the President of the Nosara Civic Association said “We are going to find a way to resolve both of these problems. It could happen. If the municipality takes over the responsibility of this dump, we are going to have a lot of problems solved.”

Furthermore, Avila commented that “For me it is terribly sad that at this point we don’t have a solution. It would be necessary to have a solution before having this closure. Because we don’t have anywhere to throw out trash.” He also added “We will work hard with the municipality and with all the public and private organizations to be able to find a solution for this conflict, which is very serious.”
Despite the fact that the residents of Nosara and the authorities of the district have hopes to better the situation, a clear-cut solution is not determined yet. The solution to the garbage problem of a town with more than 3,500 people, is still a question to be answered.


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