Health alert: Waste plant fire in Doral affects those sensitive to air pollution, doctor warns

DORAL, Fla. – Authorities warned that people who are usually sensitive to air pollution continued to be at risk on Monday after a fire in the area of Doral, authorities reported.

A report on air quality that a contractor released to authorities on Sunday included Ronald Regan High School, Andrea Castillo Preparatory Academy, and Baptist Health Hospital ER within the area of concern.

“People who have chronic respiratory problems like emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or asthma may be the folks who are susceptible,“ Jackson Health System Dr. Chris Ghaemmaghaghami said on Saturday during a city virtual town hall meeting.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personnel responded to a fire at Covanta Energy, a waste management service plant at 6990 NW 97 Ave., on Feb. 12.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Raied “Ray” Jadallah, who also participated in the town hall meeting, said the flames were “smoldering” at the trash pit in the facility’s southeast area.

“It is one of the bigger buildings in the facility,” Jadallah said adding there was “a reduction in smoke” after knocking down the building’s walls on Friday and he was “hoping to have a resolution to the smoldering smoke” in the next few days.

Matthew Huyser, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region four, said the federal agency responded on Feb. 13 for air monitoring and sampling that is expected to provide preliminary results beginning next week.

“The EPA is beginning to wind down our air monitoring activities as we transition with an environmental contractor that has been mobilized,” Huyser said about Covalta’s contractor CTEH, an environmental consultant based out of North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Department of Environmental Resources Management has also been working with the MDFR, the EPA, and CTEH. Ghaemmaghaghami will continue to review the reports, according to city and county officials.

“The EPA has been reporting on things like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, the levels of those have been very, very low,” Ghaemmaghaghami said.

Miami-Dade’s recommendations on Monday included running the air conditioning at home to re-circulate air and change the air filter. The county announced that parks in the area and schools will be open on Tuesday.

For more information about the environmental reports to Miami-Dade County, visit this page.

Watch the city’s Saturday meeting

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.