Old Smokey

From 1926 to 1970, the City of Miami (City) operated a solid waste incinerator at 3425 Jefferson Street in West Coconut Grove. Despite persistent complaints and requests for the incinerator to be shut down by West Grove residents, it continued its operation for 44 years.

Referred to as “Old Smokey,” due to the excessive smoke and ash it spewed, the incinerator was closed by court order in 1970 as a public and private nuisance after a lawsuit was filed by the City of Coral Gables. After several years of construction, the facility opened in 1983 as the City of Miami Fire Rescue Training Center. Many elementary schools, churches, and homes are still surrounding the incinerator site.

In 2011, the City of Miami performed environmental testing at Old Smokey. This testing revealed soil contamination of arsenic, barium, benzo(a)pyrene, cadmium, and lead, with levels exceeding the established safe exposure thresholds. Miami-Dade County then required the City to determine the full extent of contamination at the Fire Training Center and the surrounding areas.
After receiving notice from Miami-Dade County Division of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) in May 2011, the City of Miami was required to conduct an environmental assessment for the entire site of Old Smokey and to the extent of contamination off-site by July 2011.
According to publicly available documents, it was not until this report was brought to the attention of the surrounding West Grove community in early 2013, that DERM once again instructed the City of Miami to produce an environmental assessment throughout the Old Smokey site and surrounding areas by September 2013.

The numerous soil assessments at the Old Smokey site have continually shown high concentrations of arsenic, lead, barium, cadmium, and PAHs. Spot removal of contamination has occurred at the Old Smokey site but full remediation of the site has not occurred.

Reports have reaffirmed findings of contamination at Old Smokey and have identified offsite contamination of the surrounding parks and areas. The City needs to continue testing offsite to determine the full extent of the contamination, and the full extent of the contamination has not yet been determined.