Doral Covanta Plant Waste-to-Energy Fire


Emma Rivera

A recent blaze of fire has appeared at the Covanta Trash Plant in the city of Doral.

In the city of Doral, a fire sparked in the renewable energy plant Covanta, making residents question the short and long term side-effectsof their power source. For about a week, dark gray clouds had covered the sky as the Covanta Energy plant burned, with high levels of smoke being released into the air. The city had to issue a warning to all of its inhabitants to avoid the area and take precautions, such as wearing face masks to protect themselves. 

It is believed that the recent fire was caused by a conveyor belt with trash on fire which spread to other parts of the building, making the extensive fire present in the middle of a populous city. According to the officials, this could be one of the reasons but there is no way of knowing with certainty what the exact cause was.

The fire broke out on Feb. 12, when about 200 firefighters were present at the scene to put out the flames. The fire took over two buildings within the first 24 hours of burning and firefighters were unable to go in safely and put out the flames.  The buildings blocked any entrance, making it difficult to contain the fire, as the buildings blocked their access to the source of the blaze. The lack of direct access to the source, combined with the intensity of the flames, left firefighters with over a week to successfully put out the last flames.

“One of my good friends lives in the area and when I went over to her house, the air had so much smoke that I could practically almost taste it,” freshman Bianca Giordano said.

In order to prevent inhalation of the fumes from the fire, it is recommended that people living in nearby areas wear masks. The long-term implications are still unknown for people breathing in the air, as smoke is made up of a variety of toxic compounds that can cause inflammation in the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing and other respiratory issues. Inhaling smoke can also lead to an increased risk of cancer, heart and lung diseases and other health problems.

“It scares me for the people of Doral, this waste is going to pollute the air and can cause trouble when it comes to breathing for the citizens of the community,” sophomore Anabelle Forbes said.

Several residents and officials have been requesting that the site be moved for some time. As the site was built in 1985, it was due for renovation or relocation. The old infrastructure made it a less stable building, being constructed almost 40 years ago. People living in the nearby area received the smell of trash in the air, encouraging their wish to see this plant shut down. 

“I honestly think the fire could have been prevented, the building was old and needed to be replaced or put somewhere where if something like this were to happen, it would not affect a community as big as Doral,” junior Ainsleigh Hartley said.

Even though the long-burning blaze has been extinguished, many are concerned with the long-term effects it may have on the city. People will still be concerned about their health even though it is now officially safe. The demolition of the plant went through because of the efforts of the first responders. After the incident, Miami-Dade County is considering relocating the plant outside of the Doral community.