The city notified the county. The county, which oversees environmental clean-ups, then ordered the city to determine the extent of the contamination as well as the risk it posed to residents within 60 days.
The city missed its first deadline, then a second.
Earlier this year, almost two years later, University of Miami graduate student Zach Lipshultz discovered the report detailing the contamination while investigating a nearby trolley garage that neighbors bitterly opposed. Tension, already high over the trolley garage being built for the neighboring city of Coral Gables, grew worse.
The Ministerial Alliance, a partnership among the neighborhoods black churches, wrote letters to the county, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking for help.
At the meeting, Lipshultz, now a UM law student, along with three other fellows from UMs Environmental Justice Project, questioned whether the countys findings adequately addressed residents concerns and felt the simplified numbers failed to present a broader picture of possible contamination.
The law school is working with the universitys medical school to establish a disease registry, which would help residents like Andre Thompson, 59, who attended the meeting and said his uncle and aunt grew up in his grandmothers house near the incinerator and both died from cancer.
In addition to the registry, UM law professor Anthony Alfieri, who created the Environmental Justice Project, believes an independent study should be conducted.
We are highly skeptical of DERMs findings and conclusions and strongly recommend additional independent testing and investigation by the EPA and other environmental/public health providers.