Red tide rem­nants a stinky sit­u­a­tion

Of­fi­cials and land­fill crews work to curb smell of dead fish

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Larry Barszewski South Florida Sun Sen­tinel

Red tide’s stinky sit­u­a­tion: What to do with all the fish car­casses that wash ashore?

The de­ci­sion in South Florida, which be­gan ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ef­fects of red tide two weeks ago, has been to put them in land­fills where they can rest in [smelly] pieces.

The so­lu­tion seemed fine, since land­fills aren’t known for their pleas­ant aro­mas, but there were still con­cerns the fish stench might be a bit too much even at a dump.

Broward Com­mis­sioner Mark Bo­gen didn’t want any res­i­dents com­plain­ing about a fishy smell com­ing from the land­fill com­monly known as Mount Trash­more in Co­conut Creek in his dis­trict.

Of­fi­cials say they got Waste Man­age­ment to agree that any

more fish brought to the land­fill near Florida’s Turn­pike will be taken to an­other one in Okee­chobee as their fi­nal rest­ing place.

Clean-up crews are dou­ble-bag­ging the fish, too, in Broward County, to pre­vent leak­age and curb any smells.

And the car­casses in Palm Beach County have to be brought di­rectly to the land­fill and not dropped off at a trans­fer sta­tion, said Wil­lie Puz, spokesman for the county’s Solid Waste Author­ity that op­er­ates a land­fill near West Palm Beach.

Land­fill crews in Palm

Beach and Broward coun­ties waste no time bury­ing the car­casses as soon as they ar­rive, rather than wait­ing un­til the end of the day as is

done with most other garbage.

“With this waste, we’ll dig a sep­a­rate hole and cover it im­me­di­ately,” said Waste Man­age­ment spokes­woman Dawn McCormick.

But maybe there’s too much of a stink be­ing raised about the po­ten­tial foul smell.

Lois Rose is the solid waste op­er­a­tions man­ager for Sara­sota County, which has taken in sev­eral hun­dred tons of dead fish due to red tide over the past two months. She said even that large amount isn’t sig­nif­i­cant enough to create an un­bear­able stench.

“It smells like dead fish,” Rose said, but is only a small part of the 1,100 tons of garbage that ar­rive at the land­fill daily.

“Yes, the girls and the staff at the scales will say ‘Yes, we have dead fish com­ing in,’” but it doesn’t make the over­all site smell, Rose said. “It’s just like any other day, like when we get a load of dead fish com­ing in from the fish mar­ket or the pier.”

The amount of dead fish that have shown up on Florida’s east coast is mi­nus­cule in com­par­i­son.

The Palm Beach County land­fill es­ti­mates it has re­ceived one ton of fish re­lated to red tide, Puz said.

Waste Man­age­ment orig­i­nally told Broward County it could han­dle up to 40 tons a day of fish at its Co­conut Creek land­fill, but the ac­tual amount taken there has been far less: two loads to­tal­ing 500 pounds from Fort Laud­erdale were buried there, McCormick said, prior to the new ar­range­ment to send out the car­casses to Okee­chobee.

McCormick had no re­ports of any ad­di­tional loads be­ing brought to Monarch Hill.

Where the fish go de­pend on where the cities have dis­posal con­tracts.

In Hol­ly­wood, for in­stance, where up to 1,700 fish washed up re­cently, the city uses Waste Con­nec­tions. City of­fi­cials said the com­pany will be trans­port­ing the car­casses to a land­fill in Cen­tral Florida.

JOE CAVARETTA/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SEN­TINEL

Dead fish are seen washed ashore at the Ocean In­let Park.

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