Environmental

Miami's Ten Worst Environmental Scandals This Year

The very concept of "Florida" is bad for the environment. America saw the Everglades, shining, glorious, and pristine, and agreed to put people — trash-burning, alligator-punching, Panda Express-eating people — smack in the middle of the area. Florida became a state 172 years ago and has been shoveling vomit and oil runoff into the Everglades for 172 of those years.

But with all of that in mind, 2016 has been a particularly insane year for the Florida environment, and Miami in particular. At times, the actions of the state's ecosystem seemed to confirm that the Gaia theory — which states that the Earth is a living being and will sentiently punish those who harm it — might actually be true. Humans were horrible to one another this year, and Mother Earth might legitimately be done dealing with us.

It makes sense that she'd wipe out Floridians first: Our ocean turned green, mosquitoes tried to kill us, and somebody poisoned all the dolphins.

With 2016 drawing to a much-needed close, here's a recap of the ten most insane environmental travesties of the year:
1. Turkey Point is dumping nuclear waste into Biscayne Bay: In March, Miami-Dade County released a study showing that Florida Power & Light's nuclear power plant in Miami is likely dumping thousands of gallons of possibly radioactive wastewater into the bay. Analysts found 200 times the level of tritium, an isotope related to nuclear power production, floating around in the bay.

2. The Treasure Coast's waters turned into green slime. Was this a plague? This might have actually been a plague. If the Florida Legislature won't stop Big Sugar companies from polluting the state's water supply, perhaps an act of God will.

3. Then all the mosquitoes tried to kill us. The Zika virus hit Miami's Wynwood neighborhood midway through the summer, and once the virus transferred to Miami Beach, it's made a seemingly permanent home there. And then...

4. The county didn't really warn anybody that the pesticide it was spraying, naled, has some serious health concerns of its own. It took a New Times story for anybody to begin warning people that it wasn't really a good idea to stand under the pesticide planes and breathe in wafts of chemicals. (Naled is a neurotoxin that might be linked to birth defects in children and other diseases. It's banned in the European Union.) Few people were obviously sickened, but protests ensued, including a few massive ones outside Miami Beach City Hall.

5. The state Department of Environmental Protection agreed to let polluters dump more cancer-causing chemicals in the water supply. We can only assume Gov. Rick Scott celebrated by driving behind an ice-cream truck and slapping cones out of little kids' hands.

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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.