Doral prepares for the verdict about Miami-Dade Waste-to-Energy Facility

By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español

The saga over the fate of the much-anticipated waste-to-energy (WTE) facility began in February 2023 when a fire destroyed Covanta, the trash incinerator that for many years was criticized due to the inconvenience it caused. Everything indicates that the saga will end on September 4, 2024, after many city council meetings and several board of county commissioners meetings.

That day, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is expected to finally deliver a report with her final recommendation on the site to relocate the plant at a board of county commissioners meeting. The mayor’s decision will be based on a report prepared by the firm Arcadis and released in April of this year that included the pros and cons of the three proposed sites: Doral, Airport West and Medley.

After this information was released and all the controversy the issue has sparked, how is the city preparing for the September verdict and what position will it take? On the subject, Doral Family Journal spoke with the City of Doral Mayor, Christi Fraga, and with the current Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 12, Juan Carlos Bermudez.

Suing is a possibility

Pending the decision to be made in September and a community workshop to be announced by Levine Cava before that, Mayor Christi Fraga already has an action plan in mind that was discussed with city council members at the May meeting.

“I am not an expert on the issues addressed in the Arcadis report. For this reason, at the last council meeting I asked the city to hire an expert who could give us an independent opinion on that report,” Fraga says.

Regarding the specifics of the report, she expresses that although it states Doral would have better air quality with the new plant, it still would not reach optimal levels. “Of course, there would be an improvement because it’s a plant with new technology and not the old system we had. However, it’s not what we would like for our community nor is it consistent with the residential growth the area has experienced.”

Regarding Arcadis’ finding that the Doral site represents the fastest and cheapest alternative, a statement she questions, Fraga states this is only based on the fact that the plant has always been here, which doesn’t mean keeping it in the same location is good for the residents. She also doesn’t believe it’s acceptable or necessary to build a transfer site in the city as the county has proposed.

In fact, the mayor believes the Airport West site stands out among the others for different reasons. “I know Miramar community has expressed they would be affected by the plant but actually they are located more than a mile away from the place where it would be built.”

In addition, she believes that since the mayor has talked about building not only a facility but a campus, the Airport West site, being much larger than the Doral one, would bring more long-term benefits. “More acres are needed to meet the needs of the county. Why not build a plant in a site that has enough acreage to handle all of the county’s solid waste needs in the future?”

Given this scenario, what follows for the city is to formalize a legal opinion in the coming months to find out whether or not it’s viable to file a lawsuit in case the county decides to locate the facility in Doral. “If we decide to sue the county on behalf of the residents, we need an expert to tell us which parts of the report are the most valuable to use in our argument so we can stop them from moving forward.”

But the mayor also hopes to have the support of the commissioner representing the city, Juan Carlos Bermudez, from whom she expects does everything in his power to protect the interests of Doral. “That was the commitment he made to this community. We must remember that at the end of the day this is the responsibility of the county and the commissioners, not ours, although we will make sure we’re taking all the necessary actions to defend ourselves.”

In this regard, District 12 County Commissioner, Juan Carlos Bermudez, agrees with Mayor Fraga that the Airport West site is the best one. “First, it’s located on a central road which is US 27, better known as Okeechobee Road, second it’s the furthest site from residents compared to the other two proposals, third it’s furthest from the most sensitive area of the Everglades National Park, and fourth the land belongs to the county.”

About the report, he doesn’t agree with the argument that Doral is the fastest option because is based on an assumption that it would not have to go through a permit process, and this is not the case. He claims the 413-acre West Airport site would allow for recycling and composting, which is what Mayor Daniella Levine Cava wants.

Lastly, Commissioner Bermudez spoke about what he will do to protect the residents of Doral. “I hope to propose some options to Miami-Dade Mayor to make a public-private agreement that will reduce costs and times in the Airport West area and if my colleagues decide the facility stays in Doral, I will oppose it. I hope to work in the coming months with the City of Doral to unite us in one voice and for the residents to support me.”


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