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Environmental justice advocates claim that Florida violated neighbor’s civil rights by allowing Doral incinerator

Environmental justice advocates claim that Florida violated neighbor’s civil rights by allowing Doral incinerator

On Thursday, social justice advocates filed a formal complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that Florida regulators violated neighbor’s civil rights by allowing a Doral incinerator nearly 40 years old to be permitted.

Earthjustice attorneys claim Florida failed to provide an interpreter or file public notices in Spanish for its majority Spanish-speaking neighbors. They claim that the state refused to host a joint virtual meeting and in-person meeting to better accommodate residents around it.

The state is renewing the incinerators’ air pollution permit. It expires Monday.

Dominique Burkhardt, an Earthjustice attorney, stated that it was long past time that DEP came up with a plan to ensure that non-English speakers have equal access to environmental processes that affect their health and environment.

The complaint also demands that EPA officials force Florida’s permitting process to take into account relevant social justice issues.

Earthjustice filed the complaint for Florida Rising. Florida Rising has been challenging the continued incinerator’s use in Spanish-speaking areas around it. More than a third of the residents are also low-income.

The two organizations wrote a letter to DEP in 2020 opposing the landfill’s expansion based on complaints from neighbors about the smells.

After submitting comments against the state’s plan to renew its incinerators air permit renewal, the group asked DEP for an open meeting so neighbors could be heard. The agency published the notice in English, but agreed to a virtual meeting.

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Initial statements by DEP officials stated that they would present in English and Spanish. According to the complaint public comments made in Spanish would be translated and transcribed after the meeting. Earthjustice sent a follow-up letter to DEP, providing information about the number of Spanish-speaking neighbours. DEP agreed to have a bilingual employee but not provide a certified translator.

A link to the meeting space was not correct when the meeting notice was finally sent out. According to the complaint, DEP officials cancelled the meeting. This has not been rescheduled.

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