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Miami-Dade May Move Its Resources Recovery Facility From Doral

Miami-Dade is looking to replace its Resources Recovery Facility, located in Doral since 1982, with a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy plant on the same or a different site.

County commissioners approved a resolution directing the administration to develop and issue a request for information within 60 days for design criteria professionals to create a design criteria package for new waste-to-energy plant.

“The county aims for a mass burn combustion plant that is more efficient than the existing refuse-derived fuel plant,” said Michael J. Fernandez, director of the Solid Waste Management Department.

County commissioners approved a resolution directing the administration to develop and issue a request for information within 60 days for design criteria professionals to create a design criteria package for new waste-to-energy plant.

Doral residents urged commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who sponsored the resolution, to explore locations outside of the city after the original document said the replacement plant should be on the same site. Many complained about odors they say the plant emits and the number of trucks driving in nearby areas. They also presented health and environmental concerns.

“We’re asking you to all please reconsider relocating the new plan somewhere else in the county and spare the Doral residents of having this new plan in our backyard,” Odell Torres, a Doral resident, told the committee meeting.

The facility, which began commercial operations in 1985, is being run by Covanta Dade Renewable Energy LTD. In July 2012, the county authorized a Fourth Amended and Restated Operations and Management Agreement between the county and Covanta.

Although the existing waste-to-energy plant might operate for another 10 years, the county is still interested in designing, constructing and operating a state-of-the-art facility. The Miami-Dade Department of Solid Waste Management 2020 Master Plan recommended construction of a new waste to energy facility to meet the future demand of county residents, the resolution says.

A preliminary estimated cost for a 4,000-ton-plus, state-of-the-art mass burn facility ranges from $900 million to $1.5 billion, the document says. Chairman Diaz faced criticism before presenting the amendment to search for other locations for the facility.

“We believe that the county should not be throwing taxpayer money at an outdated industry that harms public health; it emits greenhouse gases that worsen the climate crisis,” said Dominique Burkhardt, an attorney with Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization.

“One issue that I wholeheartedly understand is the smell and the odor and the discomfort,” Mr. Díaz said. “We went to the one plant that [the company] says that they had the latest technology, produces a lot of electricity, it pays for itself and then some, which is not a burden on the taxpayer. It has no smell at all and does not produce the pollutants outside that plant.”

Commissioners Rebeca Sosa and Raquel Regalado supported Mr. Díaz’s amendment to look at other areas and recognized that relocating the facility is a countywide concern.

“This topic really does impact every single district,” Ms. Regalado said. “There are those of us that are dealing with old incinerators and the debris and the toxicity that they left behind. There are areas represented by some commissioners here that have landfills. I represent an area that has a water treatment facility in Key Biscayne.”

In a separate memorandum, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava acknowledges that the administration agreed that the county needs to construct a new waste-to-energy plant to replace the plant currently operated by Covanta in Doral and says the existing plant must be renovated and upgraded so that it can continue to operate while a new one is being constructed.

“The county is already in the process of planning for a replacement WTE [waste-to-energy] plant,” the Mayor Levine Cava wrote. “Currently, the Department of Solid Waste Management and the Internal Services Department are preparing a solicitation to obtain planning expertise for this project and are also exploring using the services of the existing bond engineer for DSWM to expedite the process.”

In the meantime, county staff would explore the best way to obtain the new plant, taking into account that there is no dedicated source of funds for this kind of project and that the federal dollars from the bipartisan infrastructure bill don’t include funding solid waste projects.

Since the facilities generate energy that can be monetized, there could be an opportunity for a public private partnership to build the plant, the mayor wrote in her memorandum.

 

Source: Miami Today

 

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