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He also mentioned the facility proposed by Miami-Dade Mayor is not a new concept let alone an out-of-date one.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. 

2 thoughts on “County Commissioners voted to start closing Covanta in Doral

  • There is an excising site with tipping floor and partially operational equipment. To now move the site because some individuals unknowingly bought their house near the waste facility is ? buyer beware. This plants been in place for over 40 years, operating and providing Miami dade with a solution to not just what to do with all the refuge but also getting cheap power in return. Now another site that will have to start from scratch

  • This letter is written to rebut and counter the petition to permanently close the Resources Recovery Facility (RRF) in Doral, as well as to provide residents of Miami-Dade County information regarding their municipal solid waste generation and its management. I have first copied and pasted the following petition from the City of Doral webpage ( and then present arguments as to the fallibility of our narrow self-interested NIMBY or not-in-my-back-yard attitude. For almost three decades I was a professor of environmental engineering at Florida International University in Miami (I retired in January 2022); while at FIU I made countless field trips to visit the RRF with my students, and believe that responsible solid waste management must entail adequate treatment and disposal at the point of generation, namely within the County borders.
    First, the Doral city petition:
    “Following the fire at the Covanta Waste-to-Energy plant, that began on February 12, 2023, City of Doral leadership and residents united to ask for action from the Miami-Dade County (MDC) Board of County Commissions. At the recent MDC Commission Meeting, Mayor Christi Fraga, Doral Councilmembers and concerned citizens attended and spoke during public comments, imploring the Commissioners to find solutions that will remove the Covanta plant from Doral. After speaking to their experience with the fire and affects it had on their health and wellness, and waiting for several hours for the item to be discussed, the MDC Board of County Commissioners rescinded the hasty vote they took last year that would’ve resulted in a new plant being built near the current one, still in the City of Doral.
    This is a step in the right direction as the County will now be evaluating other locations to possibly move the plant outside of our community. At the March Doral Council Meeting, Mayor Fraga and Council approved additional measures to aid in these efforts that include the creation of a petition and hiring of experts to also look at viable options, both of which will be instrumental in helping Doral succeed in having the plant moved. There is still much to do and it will require the community to remain united, active and engaged.”
    Second, a brief presentation on municipal solid waste (MSW) production and management:
    Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—more commonly known as trash or garbage—consists of everyday items we use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. This comes from our homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses. ( MSW generation in the USA is typically around 5 pounds per capita day. It is slightly higher in South Florida because of the large tourist community that does not get added to the local census, and because of the cruise ships that bring back MSW for disposal in the County. MSW management includes the collection and safe disposal of publicly generated trash to prevent the buildup of unsightly, unhygienic and potentially unhealthful conditions. The primary methods of MSW disposal are recycling, landfilling and incineration. Because much of the MSW has high heating values (e.g., think of the readily combustible paper and plastic in your personal household waste stream), waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities involving incineration of the solid waste with concomitant electric power production are viewed as environmentally preferred sustainable solutions for MSW management. The greatest benefit of a WTE facility is the 90 to 95% volume reduction achieved. Secondly the waste produced from the incineration process is a much more homogenous ash than the heterogeneous mix of trash/garbage initially collected. Unlike landfilled MSW, the ash is stable and not likely to decompose further, thereby obviating the lengthy liability issues faced by MSW landfills. And finally, modern WTEs are equipped with sophisticated air pollution control equipment so that there are virtually no emissions from the incineration process barring carbon dioxide and water vapor. For example, in 2000 the Doral RRF installed a new Air Quality Control System at a $64 million expense that entailed fabric or bag-house filters providing >99% removal of fine particles, wet scrubbers using slaked lime to neutralize any acid emissions and activated carbon to remove pollutants such as mercury. The Doral RRF monitored air pollutants including particulates, dioxin/furans, mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon monoxide (CO). The RRF could handle much of the MSW generated within the County and the only problems that the City of Doral could likely complain about was the fresh garbage smells associated with the MSW as it was trucked into the facility!
    Third, the current fate of MSW generated within Miami-Dade County:
    Sadly, since the Doral RRF ceased operations in Spring 2023, we have been sending all our municipal solid waste for landfilling. As anyone who has driven north along the 97th Avenue overpass above SR 836 can testify, the privately run Medley landfill keeps increasing in height and volume and now the City of Doral is bordered by a very tall and very low-tech mountain of garbage, with unending liability issues and possibly a short remaining lifespan.
    Fourth and final, a more sensible approach to MSW management:
    The County owns a lot of land within the City of Doral that has historically been associated with municipal solid waste. The RRF together with the old 58-th Street landfill could accommodate a brand-new state-of-the-art waste-to-energy plant that could handle ALL the County’s MSW for the foreseeable future. We could design and build a mass burn facility for our new WTE similar to the ones currently operating in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. If the residents of Doral are sensible, they will quit pushing the NIMBY attitude and instead welcome the new WTE in their backyard thereby embracing sustainability and greater environmental responsibility.

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