Settlement Agreement on landfill in Medley will be inspected.

By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español

A resolution seeking to protect the interests of the community was unanimously approved at the city council meeting held on January 10, 2024. Resolution 24-5420 will direct the City Manager to obtain proposals and hire a subject matter expert to inspect the Waste Management Landfill in Medley and to ensure the enforcement of a settlement agreement signed almost four years ago around this.

The issue was placed on the agenda of the last council meeting by Mayor Christi Fraga after receiving numerous calls and emails from Doral residents, particularly from Grand Bay community, approximately 60 days ago, concerning extraordinarily high levels of strong odors coming from this landfill that, although is located outside Doral’s jurisdiction, at 9350 NW and 89th Avenue, affects its residents.

“This triggered my memory of the settlement agreement that was passed in August of 2020 after Waste Management applied for a vertical expansion at the landfill, which was authorized in 2019. Since at the time the city wasn’t notified about this (and also because there were some odor events reported), we entered into eight disputes and ultimately settled,” the mayor said at the council meeting.

Christi Fraga

That year, Fraga was a City of Doral councilwoman and remembers that as part of the lawsuit, soil, as well as air and water quality samples were taken. “We wanted to stop the vertical expansion permit, but a judge suggested to come up with a settlement agreement, because there wasn’t enough support to win the case,” the mayor told Doral Family Journal.

The problem now is that it has not been possible to determine whether or not the terms of the aforementioned agreement, integrated by 12 clauses and signed under the former administration, have been fully complied. Fraga left her role as city councilwoman in November 2020 unaware of what direction this matter took, although upon returning as mayor she thought it had progressed as agreed.

However, when asking about the issue on November 26, 2023, it was confirmed that, although the Code Compliance Department of the City of Doral knows of the existence of said agreement, is not in charge of enforcing it.

“Our current attorney spoke with Waste Management to find out when did it occurred the last communication between them and the city attorney from the previous administration. They confirmed that it dates back to November 2021 and that no follow-up was done afterwards,” the mayor explained, adding that those responsible for enforcing the agreement were the city attorney and the manager of that term.

“The purpose of signing it was to mitigate the impact the vertical expansion authorized to Waste Management could have on our community. We are going to immediately verify that is being complied, first because suddenly these smells have arrived that are a nuisance for people, and second because the day they want to, for example, expand again, what tools or arguments are we going to have as a city?” the mayor stated.

According to the response obtained by the City’s Attorney, Valerie Vicente, from Waste Management, the latter indicated that they have fully complied with the settlement agreement, and that pursuant to the terms, there were annual meetings with the previous administration and site visits, although in recent history there had not been any additional meetings.

“But it’s a question of trust but verify, because a lot of this involves technical things that would require somebody who specializes in solid waste to confirm. As an attorney, I would not be able to ascertain whether in fact they’ve complied or not,” Vicente said during the council meeting.

In that session it was revealed that Alex Fernandez, a Waste Management representative, visited the Medley landfill on December 23, 2023, along with some residents and the Grand Bay manager and made follow-up calls after being notified of the community’s complaints.

“We had some operational bumps in the road, and we admit that. Those have been corrected and we have plans that we have shared with the community of Grand Bay. There have been absolutely no odor events after the visits,” Fernandez shared during his intervention in the council meeting, where he also apologized for the inconvenience created in the past months.

An expert consultant is expected to be hired soon and Cambridge Project Development, Inc., is under the radar. The company is a landfill operations specialist that was previously responsible for reviewing the Waste Management’s permit application.

The organization or individual hired would help determine whether or not the terms of the agreement were violated. These include conducting random inspections with a 24-hour notice and holding semiannual meetings to monitor the implementation of odor mitigation measures, among others.


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