Waste Management’s request to shut down one of two energy-producing trash incinerators in Broward County crashed and burned Tuesday at an all day workshop, where a majority of county commissioners said the idea is a step back environmentally.
Though no vote was taken, commissioners lined up against the idea after listening to scores of North Broward residents complain about the Monarch Hill landfill stinking up their neighborhoods and attracting birds that leave unsightly splatters on their cars.
A majority of commissioners said they’ll seek to keep the north incinerator open, to get more trash out of landfills and into the energy-creating burners.
“We should be saying no processable waste in that landfill. None,” said Commissioner Beam Furr, who represents cities in South Broward where, he said, all household trash is dumped into landfills. “We should be saying if it can be burnt, burn it.”
The county is at a pivotal point in its handling of garbage. The state wants communities to recycle 75 percent of their trash by 2020.
“We’re going in the wrong direction, for sure,” said County Administrator Bertha Henry.
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The 2013 breakup of Waste Management’s 30-year monopoly on garbage disposal in Broward County had one unintended effect: a third of Broward’s trash formerly incinerated by Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. is now piled in landfills in Central Florida by Ron Bergeron’s new company, Sun Bergeron.
In addition, Waste Management last year increased the amount of trash it deposits in Monarch Hill landfill just east of the Florida Turnpike and north of Sample Road.
Brittany Wallman Homeowners from northern Broward are expected to jam County Hall on Tuesday, drawn by visions of a landfill morphing into a mountain. Homeowners from northern Broward are expected to jam County Hall on Tuesday, drawn by visions of a landfill morphing into a mountain. ( Brittany Wallman ) –>
Tim Hawkins, a Waste Management vice president, said wastewater sludge at the landfill must be mixed with household trash in order to decrease odors. When a third of the cities defected to Sun Bergeron, the mix in the landfill was off. More household trash was needed, he said.
Household waste is “a component of a very complex organism that lives inside that landfill,” he said. “It is a living, breathing creature. There’s a lot of science going on in there.”
Wheelabrator was a Waste Management subsidiary until December. It is now owned by Energy Capital Partners.
Wheelabrator owns an energy producing incinerator in South Broward; Waste Management retained ownership of the North Broward incinerator.
The two companies are seeking county approval to burn trash in the south facility alone, and to shut down the northern incinerator.
The controversy could lead to an unlikely marriage between Sun Bergeron and Waste Management, arch-competitors up to now. Furr and other commissioners said they’d like to see Bergeron’s municipal trash incinerated at Waste Management’s northern incinerator instead of being trucked to landfills. They voiced eagerness to help forge a business deal between the two — or even to consider acquiring the incinerator..
The debate is far from over. Broward commissioners will take up the issue again in the near future.
In other action, Broward County commissioners Tuesday:
•Gave a $34.3 million contract to Transportation America to provide mass transit services to disabled residents who can’t take county buses.
•Settled three Broward County Transit-related claims for a total $72,650. Two claims were filed by people injured in county bus accidents. The third was filed by an injured bus driver. In one case, a passenger fell and hit a pole inside the bus when the bus stopped suddenly. The passenger’s medical bills were $44,205 but the county settled for $30,000.
•Accepted new Commissioner Mark Bogen appointments of Democratic activist Bernie Parness and Deerfield Beach Commissioner Bill Ganz to the Broward County Planning Council;
•Waived parking fees for the public for a coming town hall meeting about noise associated with the new runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The meeting will be Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
•Agreed to spend $4.8 million on a modern upgrade to the parking system at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, including electronic signs alerting drivers to the number of available parking spots, and technology to help drivers find where they parked their cars.
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