The actions taken by the authorities and residents of the City of Doral were instrumental in the Miami Dade Commission’s approval of an amendment that allows them to explore different areas in the county for the construction of a new waste-to-energy processing plant.
By: Edda Pujadas
The residents and commercial companies of Doral do not want the renewal of the contract nor the construction of a new waste to energy (WTE) processing plant, what they want is to take the garbage out of Doral.
The authorities and residents of Doral have united to request that the renewal of the contract between Miami Dade County and Covanta, the company in charge of the management of the waste to energy processing plant located on NW 97th Avenue in Doral, is not renewed. They are also opposed to the construction of a new landfill in our city.
The highest representative of the City of Doral, Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez requested that Miami Dade County ended its leasing contract with the waste to energy processing plant, Covanta. This lease agreement will expire in 2023. Now he has had to oppose a new plan, the construction of another waste to energy processing plant in the City of Doral.
The Covanta agreement will expire in October of 2023, the Miami Dade Commission must decide if this contract will be renewed or not one year prior to this date. This contract between the County and Covanta Dade Renewable Energy Ltd could be renewed in 2023 and it has four more options to renew up to 20 more years.
The problem is that the current plant is approximately 40 years old and the maintenance work that needs to be done to modernize it would be extremely expensive. Now a new proposal has been provided and leaded by the Commissioner for District 12 of Miami Dade County, Jose “Pepe” Diaz. This proposal is to build a new plant and locate it in the City of Doral. Fortunately, the Miami Dade Commission approved an amendment to this proposal that allows them to explore different areas with smaller impact to the population of any residential zones.
“As residents of Doral, we have been dealing for a long time with the odors that emanate from the waste management plant. So, what we expect now is that this contract is not renewed and that the county authorities find a new location to build the landfill, one that has less impact to the quality of life of the people,” indicated Mayor Bermudez.
It is not only bad odors and ashes that have an impact in the health of the residents of the area, but also the traffic of trucks in a zone that is mainly residential, even before Doral was a city. “It is imperative to search for areas far away from the urban ones, Miami Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava agrees with the idea to analyze other areas,” stressed Mayor Bermudez.
The proposal of Commissioner José “Pepe” Diaz to build a new processing plant is also because our landfills are near their capacities and as of now, they are sending hundreds of trucks daily to the landfills in Central Florida. This is not efficient nor sustainable.
It is important to take into consideration that the waste management plant located in Doral started operations in 1982 and was originally located in 100 acres of land, including the adjacent ashes landfill. This plant is the cornerstone of the solid waste system of Miami Dade County; it processes more than four thousand tons of solid waste per day, and it operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. This is an annual average of one million forty thousand tons of processed waste which represent approximately 62% of the total waste that is produced today in Miami Dade.
Since 1982, this plant has processed more than forty million tons of solid waste and it has reduced it to 6.5 million tons of stable ashes that are not in risk of combustion. It has recovered more than 360 thousand tons of ferrous residues and 60 thousand tons of nonferrous metals while producing more than ten million MWhs of electricity.
When we analyze these figures on an annual basis, they reflect that the processing plant produces 300 thousand MWhs of electricity, enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. It recycles 18,000 tons of ferrous metals (equivalent to 15,000 cars) and 3,000 tons of nonferrous metals (equivalent to 161,000,000 beverage cans).
Commissioner Diaz’s proposal is to install the new processing plant in the same place that the current one occupies or in an adjacent site because this will save at least two years of administrative processes, between the delay in the identification or acquisition of a new site, any additional permits, zoning approvals, and other requisites that may arise.
On the other side, Mayor Bermudez explains that the residents of Doral have been waiting for many years to see this processing plant moved away, so two more years is really very little time to decide over what directly affects the quality of life of the residents of the area, and the value of their properties.
Commissioner Diaz’s argument is that the 2020 Department of Solid Waste Management Master Plan (or 2020 DSWM Master Plan) includes a recommendation for the construction of a new processing plant to satisfy the future demand of the residents of the County.
The estimated preliminary cost for the installation of a solid waste processing plant, of last generation for more than 4,000 tons ranges between $900,000,000 and $1,500,000,000. Commissioner Diaz believes that this model of plant will take away the odors from Doral even when the plant is still located in the city.
In order to get more information about the way this type of innovative processing plants work, Commissioner Diaz visited the Covanta plant in West Palm Beach. This tour allowed him to observe and analyze the technology that this processing plant uses, with significantly better operative efficiency and with higher recyclable energy yields and a lower emissions profile. It also virtually eliminates the odors outside of the facility.
The facilities of this waste to energy (WTE) plant are recognized as a net reducer of greenhouse gases and a key factor in the reduction of methane emission, when compared to landfills. Studies have demonstrated that the counties and municipalities in the United States that have WTE plants have better rates of recycling than its counterparts that are not WTE.
Mayor Bermudez reiterated that the garbage odor in some areas of Doral has been a problem for years and that the complaints are accumulating. “The City of Doral keeps prioritizing the wellbeing of the community, exploring viable solutions that might alleviate this problem and working on moving the solid waste plant to a different site, where it does not negatively affect so many residents.”
Bermudez also stated that Mayor Daniella Levine Cava sent out a notification regarding the plan to build a new WTE plant in which she states that as of today, there is no specific financing for solid waste projects, and she requests more time before taking a decision. “We are grateful to the Mayor of Miami Dade for listening and having attended to the comments of the community in Doral,” Bermudez expresses.
Mayor Bermudez also invites the residents of the city to voice their concerns to our leaders in Miami Dade County. You can do this by sending them an email. You can find the email addresses of the Miami Dade Commissioners in the County website at: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/government/commission/home.page.