According to public records, the Amadors opened King Metal Recycling & Processing for business in April 2010, only to run into trouble right from the start. That June, Miami-Dade detectives inspected the plant and discovered there was neither a license to operate nor a Florida Department of Revenue registration. There were also no accurate records of business. The Amador brothers, as well as the plant's two other owners, were booked on charges of operating a secondary metal-recycling business without a license and failure to maintain secondary metal-recycling records. But those charges were eventually dismissed, and once the Amadors got their papers in order, the business reopened.

The neighbors weren't as easy to shake. Over the next year, residents living near King Metal called DERM six times about the noise and dust the plant created. One complaint, filed January 27, 2011, stated King Metal was "burning metal at all hours of the day. Smoke escaping from property and effecting [sic] the neighborhood." After each complaint, DERM inspectors visited the plant to see if a pollution problem existed. Each time, they found nothing out of the ordinary.

"When our inspectors are there, they're not seeing plumes from the operation," says Lee Hefty, the assistant director of DERM. "We haven't found them in noncompliance."

So there didn't seem to be anything linking King Metal to any recent health problems. The company passed all of its monthly DERM inspections and had never been cited for contamination or pollution issues. When the county ordered the plant to shut down, Pedro Amador complied. "It seems to me he learned his lesson the first time," Robertson says.

Residents began to wonder if there had been more to the neighborhood's health problems than just one recycling plant.


The beige-yellow house with the white iron fence on NW 87th Terrace in Broadmoor used to have two occupants: Mary Alice Smith and her son, Todd Evans. A single mother, Mary Alice raised the boy alone in that house. Growing up, Todd remembers being drafted into chores on Saturdays, with mother and son cleaning the house as they listened to soul music. As the years went on, Todd left to live on his own, and Mary Alice stayed in Broadmoor.

Around January of 2011, doctors diagnosed the then-73-year-old Mary Alice with cancer in her uterine lining. Todd didn't know what to expect. His mother, though diabetic, had been healthy and in good shape. Physicians at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables began chemotherapy as soon as possible and thought they'd beaten the disease. They performed blood tests in November, but the results were months in arriving.

"I knew something was wrong, because they took so long to get back to her," Todd says.

This past January, the doctors delivered the bad news: The cancer had returned. The day after the results arrived, Mary left her house for the hospital. She would never return home. On January 24, she was dead.

Todd first assumed it was just a peril of old age. But Mary Alice Smith wasn't the only Broadmoor resident to get sick or die from cancer. On her cul-de-sac, there have been two other deaths this year: Ethel Frazier and Robert Butler. Todd also knows of two other women on his mother's street who began battling cancer in the past year.

Initially, Todd blamed the local water and food for all the illnesses. He even began drinking only bottled water. Now, like many of Broadmoor's residents, he worries that something in the very air or water of the neighborhood is making people sick.

With Mary Alice gone, Todd is struggling to pay the mortgage on the house in which he grew up. But he doesn't want to give it up. "This home is a legacy. It's a major part of her," he says.

"My mother was a beautiful person," he adds. "She was the center of my universe. I miss having her, and I miss being able to speak to her." He pauses to collect himself. "I can't really think too far into it without crying."


Half a mile from King Metal, where NW 36th Avenue dead-ends at NW 76th Street, there is a small parking lot, some scraggly vegetation, and several construction trailers. Here, near some ramshackle tin-roofed houses and potholed streets, is one of Miami-Dade's 13 Superfund sites. Under the asphalt, the concrete, and the wheels of an occasional pickup truck, a stew of dangerous chemicals once threatened the health of thousands.

From 1957 until 1984, two plants spewed sulfuric acid, chromium, arsenic, and lead into the soil. Anaconda Aluminum and Milgo Electronics, which were headquartered here, poured waste into pits just a few feet above Dade's shallow drinking-water supply until federal regulators finally caught up with them. The companies paid large fines, and for years following the plants' closure, authorities excavated the site. Though people in the neighborhood and perhaps all over Northwest Miami-Dade for years were exposed to the lethal effluent through drinking water, finally, in July 1998, the site was declared safe.

In the lower-income neighborhoods of Miami-Dade, industrial operations have had little reason to worry about their environmental impact. Though car-repair shops, metal-processing facilities, gas stations, and other chemical-related businesses are located not far from homes in some cases, residents haven't complained much over the years.

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12 comments
truestory
truestory

I agree with the story,... But i believe another major poisoning issue that needs to be addressed asap is the poisoning of the water supply in Miami intentionally with fluoride,... this crap kills slowly over the years,? got arthritis?cancer? Thyroid problems? Stop being dumb down to be blind of the corruption committed by the invisible mafia,known as politicians...

ttsturrup
ttsturrup

wow.coach frazier was my teacher and his brother Dr.frazier.my uncle,brother,godfather played for him at da west and cc.i rememeber ms.frazier.i went to school with two frazier daughters.

voiceunheard
voiceunheard

Something really needs to be done about this asap

SPAZZZY
SPAZZZY

@StephVivanco @splakin I read a little on those articles. I'm buying a gas masks for me and Sharon.

splakin
splakin

@StephVivanco true life: our hood is killing us

Jimbo99
Jimbo99 topcommenter

Everyone complains about why there are no manufacturing in the USA any more ? Well this is one reason why ?

run.randrand
run.randrand

CHROMIUM FROM METAL BUMPERS AND HEAVY METAL TOXICITY LEECHING INTO THE SOIL AND GROUND WATER THERE------CRIMINAL TOXIC WASTE DESIGNATED AREA.......

natalie__ann
natalie__ann

@SPAZZZY @stephvivanco @splakin call up Erin Brockovich

splakin
splakin

@SPAZZZY if its your time it's your time

ivxx
ivxx

 @Jimbo99 yea dude.. we'll just keep outsourcing to those stupid asians who pay their employees cents and work them constantly...

 

people don't need to change to accomodate manufacturing jobs, manufacturing jobs need to change for people...

 

i guess i'm wrong though... people ARE changing... their body's cells are multiplying at an abnormal rate... evolution right Jimbo..?

Jimbo99
Jimbo99 topcommenter

 @ivxx

 Just where I rent, I have to sign off on waivers for potential lead paint and mold/mildew spores in the walls and ceiling. They want top dollar, yet don't want to be accountable & responsible for any health issues from what they profit as a business.

 
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