U.S. Water News Online
NORTH MIAMI, Fla. -- A developer is hoping wastewater
created by decades of decaying garbage at a former landfill can be
cleaned up with sugar and air, but critics say the method is unproven
and could pose further environmental dangers.
Developer Michael Swerdlow is planning a 5,000-unit luxury condo
called Biscayne Landing on the site of the Munisport dump, which was
closed in 1981. Through a process called biological remediation,
Swerdlow hopes to avoid eyesore water treatment plants for future
The process involves feeding sugar and air underground through a
series of pipes, said Nicholas Albergo, president of the company
handling the cleanup, HSA Engineers & Scientists. As tainted
groundwater flows toward the sea, bubbling air and bacteria formed by
the sugar remove ammonia and convert it into odorless nitrogen gas,
He said his company has been testing the process at the Munisport
site since last year. The technology is similar to what's used in
standard wastewater treatment plants, he said, but the in-ground
technique is new.
Cynthia Guerra, executive director of the Tropical Audubon
Society, wants to know why Miami-Dade County allowed Swerdlow to
switch from surface treatment to what she called an ``experimental
County regulators and HSA acknowledged there is some uncertainty
to the project, but say if a yearlong test using the method doesn't
treat the water adequately, the developer will return to the old
Guerra warned that since no one knows what was buried in the
landfill, more serious pollutants such as heavy metals could
overwhelm the bioremediation.
``This has a simple test,'' said Wilbur Mayorga, chief of the
pollution remediation section for the county's Department of
Environmental Resource Management. ``It's going to do the same job or
better than the previous one, that's the bottom line.''
The Miami-Dade commission agreed to contribute $31 million of the
costs of the Munisport cleanup, using part of a $130 million bond
issue earmarked to clean up other polluted sites in the county.
Swerdlow, meanwhile, has set up a sales office on the edge of the
former dump, and Albergo said 1,000 of the planned 5,000 units have
already been sold.
``If you're going to put a high-rise residential on this property,
do you think those folks are going to want to look out the window at
a wastewater treatment facility?'' Albergo said.
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