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Jul 21, 2023

Six months after a portion of Miami-Dade's waste-to-energy plant went up in flames, the county has a bold new proposal to replace the 40-year-old site.

The problem is it could take a decade to build, and local landfills are running out of space.

It was back in February that the Miami-Dade County Resources Recovery Facility on Northwest 97th Avenue in Doral went up in flames, burning for days.

The plant, operated by Covanta Energy and responsible for processing about 50% of the county's trash, has been closed since.

That's caused the county to expedite a solution to replace the plant.

The main option is building a waste management campus about eight miles north. On Friday, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava endorsed the proposal in a memo.

Levine Cava wants to build the campus on the site of the closed Opa-locka West Airport. The land is already owned by the county and it's mainly rural, away from residents.

That's a stark contrast from the Doral site, which is surrounded by residential developments. For years, residents have complained about the odor from the site and after February's fire, air quality and health concerns became a main topic of conversation.

The county admits the permitting process and construction of the new site could take years.

The proposal states a combination of state and federal funds would be applied. There's also a proposal to implement a $36 fee hike for trash collection in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan Carlos Bermudez, who led the resolution to come up with a new plan, said he believes the proposal addresses the current issues at the plant in Doral.

"It’s in an easy place to get to. Number two, and most importantly, it’s far away from any residents, which is the most important thing for the health of the residents," Bermudez said. 'And number three, the campus component option, I think, is very good because it gives the opportunity for the county to do more."

County commissioners are set to explore the recommendations at a meeting on September 6th.

“A lot of people told us this was never going to happen,” said Doral Community Coalition Director Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich.

Meanwhile, Doral Mayor Christi Fraga applauded the county’s recommendations but highlighted the immediate challenges that need to be addressed.

“We’re extremely grateful to see this new recommendation,” said Mayor Fraga. “In the meantime, the solutions are trucking the trash to central Florida to Okeechobee and the other solution is to expand the North Dade landfill.”

The county may also submit two other proposals that include constructing a modern waste to energy facility on the existing Doral and Medley sites.

Meanwhile, Levine Cava may seek to expand the county's other two landfills, along with landfill contracts in central Florida.