A new report details the dangerous conditions faced by residents of Doral during the fire at the waste incineration plant in Covanta.

DORAL — A new report indicates that residents of Doral were exposed to dangerous conditions during a three-week fire at an incinerator in Covanta.

A new detailed report from non-profit environmental organization Earthjustice and grassroots group Florida Rising details the air pollution and health and safety hazards faced by residents from the massive fire that broke out at a Covanta Energy incinerator back in February. The report found “dangerous concentrations” of toxic contaminants and chemical contaminants at the site and Doral as the fire burned for almost three weeks.

After analyzing official air quality reports from monitoring stations around the city, the report found concentrations of particulate matter 2.5 — a toxic air pollutant — at levels deemed “unhealthy” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as early as February 14. Despite Miami – Dade County official claims that the fire did not raise any air quality or environmental concerns, exposure to particulate matter 2.5 has been linked to numerous health conditions, including asthma, decreased lung and organ function, and irregular heartbeat, it said. report.

Concentrations of volatile organic compounds, chlorine, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide have also been found in the air at levels that the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as “unsafe” for humans, the report said.

“No community should have to endure the nightmare that the people of Doral went through,” said Sebastian Caicedo, regional director of Florida Rising in Miami.

After evaluating Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) records, the report also found on-site water quality issues at the time of the fire and asbestos contamination of the walls and roof of a demolished incinerator with asbestos-containing materials. materials are taken to the nearby Medley landfill.

“It will be a long time before the public health implications of this disaster are fully realized, but this report immediately makes one thing clear: incineration is not clean, safe or sustainable, contrary to what the industry wants us to believe.” Caicedo added.

The report also states that there have been four more fires at the Covanta facility in Doral in the past four years. Prior to the February fire, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a warning to Miami-Dade County about potential violations at the facility, including fire safety hazards, the report said.

Photos and videos of plumes of black smoke shrouding the community have gone viral on social media, along with renewed outrage that not only is the 40-year-old incinerator still in operation, but that Miami-Dade County has not definitively ruled out building an incinerator. a new incinerator in Doral or somewhere else.

Last year, Florida Rising documented in a civil rights complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency that Florida’s municipal incinerators are disproportionately harming communities of color and communities where they do not speak English well. Florida Rising and Earthjustice are joining other environmental and public health advocates in demanding that Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levin Kawa remove incineration funding from the county’s Zero Waste and Climate Action plans.

“We welcome the opportunity to make a community contribution to a true Zero Waste Plan for Miami-Dade County,” Caicedo said.

“Miami-Dade has a historic opportunity to be a leader in our state in reducing emissions, improving public health, and advancing racial equity through the County’s Zero Waste Action Plan,” added Dominic Burkhardt, Earthjustice Senior Attorney and lead author of the report.

“Instead of focusing on the industry of the past, Miami-Dade should prioritize real Zero Waste solutions like waste reduction, composting and recycling instead of supporting an industry that will lead to dirtier air and more disease.”

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