County Commissioners voted to start closing Covanta in Doral

DORAL, FL – On Tuesday, Sept. 19, the discussion around the relocation of Covanta Waste-to-Energy Plant took a new turn after the item was pushed back in the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners Meeting that took place on Sept.6.

After listening to Doral residents, advocates, and elected officials alike lengthy express their view on this important issue and ask several questions, as well as an intervention of Arcadis, the company in charge of designing the Solid Waste System proposed by Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, it was decided to start the process of closing permanently Covanta’s plant at Doral.

In addition, commissioners also voted to postpone the item due to lack of information on vital aspects such as air-quality but agreed to consider the three sites included in Cava’s report: the Opa-Locka site, the Medley one and, as a last resort, the Doral one. 

“At the end of the day, 99 percent of the questions raised by residents are about air quality and if we don’t have details on this, we can’t decide what site is the best one, we definitely need more data,” Commissioner on District 7, Raquel A. Regalado, said.

The focus point within the meeting was the financial, health and operational implications of the Solid Waste Management campus, including the Waste-To-Energy Facility at the intersection of Krome Avenue and US 27, commonly referred to as Opa-Locka West airport, proposed in Daniella Levine Cava’s report, and the other two sites recommended by her administration. 

During the meeting, it was crucial the intervention of Chris Ellen, Project Manager of Arcadis, a consultant company in solid waste and waste to energies industries. He said to believe the county is going “in the right direction by considering a new Mass-Burn Waste to Energy (WTE) Facility within its integrated solid waste management strategy.”

Ellen explained that in total 25 sites were evaluated, and 7 potential sites were identified of which 3 were chosen to be included in the mayor’s report.

“The mayor’s plan is to put together alternatives to start diverting some of this tonnage from landfills. A waste-to-energy facility can be a big part of that because it reduces the solid waste volume by approximately 90 percent.” 

He also mentioned the facility proposed by Miami-Dade Mayor is not a new concept let alone an out-of-date one. “These facilities are in operation all around the world. We’re talking about a modern mass burned waste-to-energy plant, not an incinerator of the 1970s.”

“Airport West is by far the largest site that we evaluated, it also has some environmental issues and it’s got some other siting issues. It’s not a perfect site by any means, but it is definitely the largest site, and it does have good transportation access.”

In order for this item to get to a final resolution, the commission will be conducting air quality and environmental tests, which could potentially take 4 to 6 months, and negotiations will be made in Doral that are expected to end in 60 days. When these periods are due, the board will have more tools to determine the best site for Covanta. 

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