County reverses decision to build new waste plant at Doral site of old one

Written by Richard Battin on March 7, 2023

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County reverses decision to build new waste plant at Doral site of old one

As white-shirted Doral-area residents filled the front and center seats of the Miami-Dade County Commission chamber Tuesday to ask how the county planned to handle the Doral solid waste plant fire that started Super Bowl Sunday and smoldered more than a week, commissioners rescinded a decision to build a new solid waste plant at the same site.

Former Doral mayor and now County Commission Juan Carlos Bermudez introduced the resolution to:

■Rescind the decision made last July to build a new facility on the same ground.

■Authorize the county mayor to explore other possible sites for the facility.

■Explore alternative technologies for disposing of solid waste without incinerators.

■Have Mayor Daniella Levine Cava within 90 days provide a new report.

After some debate, his resolution passed unanimously.

The crowd had signs, but Chairman Oliver G. Gilbert III asked them not to wave them and the orderly crowd complied.

After the first speaker stepped to the lectern to tell the commission how the fire and smoke from the burning Covanta plant hurt his health the audience applauded. Mr. Gilbert told the group clapping was not permitted.

Smiling broadly and raising his arms above his head, Mr. Gilbert rotated his hands back and forth and instructed the crowd, “This is how you show approval.” Again, the orderly group complied.

More than a dozen Doral-area residents took their turns to express concern both about long-term health effects of the incident and how the commission was going to fix it.

The youngest was a 13-year-old who, with her mother, told of the skin rash she had developed in the wake of the week-long fire. She still has it, her mother said.

Several high school students were among speakers entreating commissioners for action as well as senior citizens who had resurrected their pandemic masks.

It wasn’t the first fire at the facility, one of the few incinerator-based solid-waste disposal systems left nationwide. Last July the commission voted to build a new facility in the same location.

It was clear those attending wanted the new facility to rise somewhere else. That included Mr. Bermudez, who lives within a half-mile of the plant.

“There are other sites,” Mr. Bermudez said, “even in the 12th District, that would be more appropriate.”

Miami-Dade commissioners are seeking a recycling goal of 100% and earlier this year passed a resolution asking Mayor Levine Cava to pursue strategies to achieve that goal with the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC).

With two Miami-Dade recycling contracts expiring March 31 and the site for a new processing plant and incinerator a burning issue for the 1980s-vintage plant, the Feb. 7 resolution directed the mayor to collaborate with SFRPC on strategies and plans related to solid waste management.

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