The highest geographic point in all of Florida is Britton Hill, which rises 345 feet above sea level in Walton County, in the Panhandle area. Yet today, a mountain of man-made garbage in Miami-Dade could one day become the highest point on the peninsula.
It is believed that the Medley garbage dump could receive final approval from the state to increase to a maximum height of about 265 or 340 feet, which would make the Broward dump named “Mount Trashmore”, which stands 225 feet, looks small next to it.
On Wednesday, the Doral City Council, whose neighbor Medley, voted unanimously in favor of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s landfill expansion permit. In exchange, and under an agreement, the Waste Treatment Department, which owns and manages the facility, agreed to a 12-point plan to try to mitigate a rotten egg smell that has plagued residents for decades. .
The agreement outlines a series of steps the department must take to address the pungent odor, believed to be caused by hydrogen sulfide in the air. The terrible pestilence has prompted hundreds of complaints from residents of the northwest Doral area, which have increased further in recent years as urbanization has exploded in the area.
Among the measures that the Waste Treatment Department has committed to take are: a roof will be installed at the southwest end of the garbage dump facing Doral, which means that it will not be able to dump any more garbage there. The Waste Treatment Department will also expand its on-site gas collection system with the addition of nearly a dozen new wells and 10,000 feet of pipeline. Similarly, the agency will install two “aerosol cannons” for spraying chemicals that neutralize odors as trash is thrown out.
“I think we’ve made quite a bit of progress,” said Councilmember Pete Cabrera, noting that the proposed landfill expansion may give the city some bargaining edge.
The agreement is comprehensive, something required by state and federal law, said Dawn McCormick, a spokeswoman for the department. McCormick said the steps were “very important” when it comes to concerns about the strong stench, although it cannot be said to what extent it could be effective in improving the quality of life for residents.
“There are always problems when residential communities grow and prosper near a landfill,” McCormick said. “The City of Doral, if you look at the growth of its population over the last 10 to 15 years, is a community that has not stopped growing.”
In 2010, Doral’s population was close to 45,000, and in 2019 it is estimated to reach 65,000.
The Medley landfill began operating in 1952. Cabrera said stink has been a problem in parts of the city since he moved there 33 years ago. He called the smells that sometimes force the end of a family barbecue in northwest Doral “unbearable”.
“It seems to me that it will never go away 100 percent,” he said.
However, the garbage dump at NW 93rd Street and NW 89th Avenue is not the city’s only concern. Also in Doral is the county’s Covanta Waste Plant near 69th Street and NW 97th Avenue, an incineration plant where more than a million tons of garbage are burned each year.
Mayor Juan Carlos Bermúdez has said he thinks the smells from the Covanta plant could be even more troublesome than those from the Medley landfill. It’s the next challenge facing the city, said Bermúdez, who then added that he will ask Miami-Dade to change the installation site when his contract expires in 2023.
“The truth is that we would all like these places to leave here,” said Cabrera when speaking of the garbage dump and the incineration plant. “The reality is that we are close to the garbage dump and the plant.”
Pierre Christ, who lives near Morgan Levy Park at NW 52nd Avenue and NW 102nd Avenue, south of the Covanta facility, and a little south of the landfill, said the situation for dealing with the plague has turned worse lately, as he spends a lot more time at home due to COVID-19 lockdown.
The smell, he said, is “like organic food spoiled. It’s like smelling or drinking vinegar. It’s that kind of feeling. “
Interestingly, most days the smell is not a problem, Christ said, but the stench is worse when the weather is humid after a downpour and when the wind blows from north to north. south. The problem has been around ever since he moved to the area nearly 20 years ago, he added.
“The fact that the city is dealing with the situation and investing time to reach an agreement is a positive thing,” Christ said. “There is an intention to improve the problem.”
EXAMS DONE IN THE AREA
So far, there appears to be no threat of a health risk related to odor.
While negotiating the agreement with the Waste Treatment Department, Doral hired an assessor to collect ground and surface water samples at the Medley landfill. Despite having detected levels of sulfur and ammonia, it was concluded that they were not so penetrating that residents could perceive them, the adviser said.
The assessor also took air samples at two locations near the landfill for 33 days. On 25 of the 33 days at the Grand Bay apartment complex, hydrogen sulfide was detected. The same thing happened for 15 days at Doral Glades Park. At times, “the odor was perceptible” like hydrogen sulfide, the assessor found, but it never exceeded federal government safety limits.
Both the Medley landfill and the Covanta plant are likely contributing factors to the odor, said the advisor, E. Sciences, and it all depends on which way the wind is blowing at any given time, north or south.
Bernardo Bieler, who oversees pollution regulation at the Miami-Dade County Environmental Department, said that the measures that the Waste Treatment Department agreed to take to improve the situation “are the traditional standards used to mitigate the evil odor”.
Whether or not it will work in the long run, Bieler said, “for now we cannot confirm or deny it.”
Read this article in English in the Miami Herald.
Translation of Jorge Posada