Homeowners from northern Broward are expected to jam County Hall on Tuesday, drawn by visions of a landfill morphing into a mountain.
The Monarch Hill landfill just east of the Florida Turnpike and north of Sample Road has grown in the past two years, much to the chagrin of its neighbors in Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Parkland and Margate.
A 2010 agreement with Coconut Creek said that after July 2013, the company would divert as much household trash “that practically can be removed,” to waste-to-energy incinerators in Broward County. Instead, the company doubled the trash it dumped on the landfill — termed “Mount Trashmore” by locals — Waste Management officials concede.
That’s in the forefront of residents’ minds as county commissioners consider a request from Waste Management and its former company, Wheelabrator, to close a trash incinerator in northern Broward. County commissioners are scheduled to discuss and debate the issue all afternoon, and will accept some public comment on the controversial topic.
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The meeting starts at 12:30 p.m. in the Broward County Governmental Center at 115 S. Andrews Ave. in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Public input will be limited to 45 minutes, and those who are left out can speak when the contract is voted on March 3.
Wheelabrator was sold by Waste Management in mid-December to New-Jersey-based Energy Capital Partners. As part of the sale, Waste Management retained ownership of the northern incinerator. Wheelabrator now owns only the southern Broward waste-to-energy incinerator.
Wheelabrator needs Broward County approval to rewrite its garbage disposal contracts to allow all the trash it carries to be burned at the southern incinerator, and to allow the closing and possible demolition of the northern incinerator.
Brittany Wallman Neighbors of the “Mount Trashmore” landfill in northern Broward descended on County Hall Tuesday, worried about plans to close a trash-burning incinerator in the region. Neighbors of the “Mount Trashmore” landfill in northern Broward descended on County Hall Tuesday, worried about plans to close a trash-burning incinerator in the region. ( Brittany Wallman ) –>
The request has landfill neighbors worried that the impact of the incinerator closure would be more trash dumped on Monarch Hill.
The request to close the incinerator grew out of the bust-up of Waste Management’s 30-year hold on garbage disposal in Broward County.
When a 26-city compact for garbage disposal in Broward disintegrated in July 2013, only 15 cities remained with Waste Management and Wheelabrator. Most of the remainder went with West Broward businessman Ron Bergeron’s new company, Sun Bergeron.
Now that Bergeron is trucking 37 percent of Broward’s trash to landfills in Central Florida, Wheelabrator says it no longer has enough trash to burn in two incinerators.
Wheelabrator vice president of operations Bill Roberts said he also will seek approval from his 15 contract cities. The landfill controversy, he said, is “not a Wheelabrator issue.”
The landfill and decisions about how much trash are dumped on it belong to Waste Management. Roberts said Wheelabrator will burn all of its contract-city trash at the south incinerator. He can’t give assurances about what Waste Management might do with other trash it imports into the county or receives from other Broward customers in the future.
“The only assurance I can and will give is that those 15 cities that signed up with Wheelabrator to have their trash processed at the south Wheelabrator facility — that’s going to happen,” he said.
Waste Management company spokeswoman Dawn McCormick said the company doesn’t plan to increase its landfill trash.
She said the reason trash tonnage doubled recently is that the reduction in trash volume after so many customers chose Sun Bergeron led to an imbalance at the landfill. There was too much wastewater sludge and not enough household trash to mix with it to keep the odors down, she said.
A decision was made to route trash previously transferred elsewhere to the Monarch Hill landfill instead, she said.
McCormick said the result was a year that prompted praise from Coconut Creek for reduction in odors. The city had complained in a 2009 proceeding against Broward County that the landfill “‘has grown to become unsightly and emits foul and noxious odors,” also attracting “disease bearing” animals like rats, seagulls, mice, pigeons and vultures.
The spike in trash there has since dropped, she said.
“We are willing to continue to meet with Coconut Creek to resolve any issues they have,” she said. “In the current market, our intent is not to change operations at Monarch Hill. There will be no more trash coming in and no less.”
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