BACKGROUND – Before the Fire
About a year before the Covanta Processing Facility contract was set to be extended (October 2022) the Doral Community Coalition started to work on the process of alerting our community and our District 12 representative in the Miami-Dade County Commission about the need to take action to prevent the plant to continue in Doral.
We recommended that the contract not be renewed for another extended period, but rather that the renovation and removal of the plant be taken into consideration in the planning process.
At that time, our County representative and Chair of the Miami Dade County Commission granted us the petition to conduct a study and requested the Miami-Dade Mayor Levine-Cava to present it within 90 days, which was done in April 2022.
The Doral Community Coalition was present with several residents in anticipation of the presentation regarding the findings of the study and the recommendation for what was to come. All of us were surprised and baffled when the study was completely ignored by the Chairman of the Commission and instead in response presented a resolution to replace the existing COVANTA facility with a new one in the same location, the City of Doral. Not only was this move contrary to the recommendations of the study presented in that meeting, but the resolution was brought forth with no prior discussion or considerations.
After further investigation we also realized that the process that took place to conduct a vote was in clear violation of the rules under which the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners operates and did not respect the rights of the citizens of Miami-Dade County to voice their concerns during public comments. This action allowed the Doral Community Coalition, together with a few residents, to initiate legal action that is currently under dispute at Miami-Dade County District Courts, with a hearing set on March 20th.
The fire at the plant brought a whole new dimension to the resource recovery facility issue. The long-range effects of the fire made more residents aware of more pressing problems with the location of COVANTA. More residents have become concerned with more than just the issue of the odor. The risks that a processing plant in the middle of a residential area poses to the people is much higher, and they include health, environmental, and traffic added by over 600 garbage trucks coming to dump in this facility in Doral on a daily basis.
PRESENT AND FUTURE – The Fire and What’s to Come
The situation with the fire at the facility has made the issue with COVANTA a more urgent matter. The garbage processing capability of the plant needs to be replaced since, at this moment it is unable to operate. The energy previously produced is not generated anymore, and now their timeline for a new facility is cut short. The plant is now inactive, and it is unlikely to reopen.
We expect that there will be a favorable resolution to our legal action that would invalidate the existing resolution at the County for the location of the new facility, however that is only the first step.
The County needs to create a comprehensive plan, review the location, take into account the bad experience learned from the recent fire, make a plan consistent to the population growth, new technology, and consider the feasibilities of locations far away from any residential areas. This is not an easy task, but it is an absolutely necessary one.
The Doral Community Coalition will continue, as it always has, to represent good governance in our city as well as in our County. Our legal actions and our dedication are proof of our concerns for our residents and their well-being. We will not hesitate to take more legal actions if necessary. Fortunately, we can now count on the commitment of our District 12 representative, Commissioner Juan Carlos Bermudez in representing the best interest not only of our community but that of Miami-Dade County with the same honesty and determination he’s had in our city for so many years.
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Article paid for and approved by Doral Community Coalition