UPDATE: Since the broadcast of this story, Stericycle has confirmed in a written statement to KUER that it is seriously considering the option of moving, and that the company has taken steps to secure property in a remote area of Tooele County. The company's Vice President for Legal and Regulatory Affairs Selin Hoboy says the details are still being finalized.
Several state lawmakers and local officials have confirmed that Stericycle officials are considering relocating the company’s medical waste incinerator out of North Salt Lake City with Tooele County as the target destination.
State Senator Todd Weiler says he has been in contact with Stericycle, and that the company has alerted him they are looking at buying property in Tooele County. Weiler announced in the fall that he planned to run a bill in the upcoming legislative session to ban medical waste incineration in the state. He’s now scaled back from that, and says his bill would prohibit the burning of waste within a 2-mile radius of a school or a residential subdivision.
“I think the real problem here is the facility is now operating in what is a residential neighborhood with five schools in a short 2-mile proximity," Weiler says. "When they do have incidents, when the power goes out, when they shut down when they get too hot, they have to open up their escape valve if you will, and they billow out this gross, black pollution that we all end up breathing.”
Weiler’s bill leaves open the possibility of the incinerator’s relocation. Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne says Stericycle representatives contacted him this week for general discussions about a possible move there. Milne says he and the other two county commissioners are in unanimous tentative support of having the business.
“As long as they’re operating safely, they’re not a potential hazard to employees or our community, then I don’t see why any municipality or state would not welcome a free enterprise,” Milne says.
Milne says the county is still in discussions with Stericycle about whether the company is willing to pay special mitigation fees to offset negative impacts of their industry as other businesses like Energy Solutions and the Republic Landfill do.
If Stericycle does decide to build a new incinerator, it would require approval from the legislature and the Governor. The Governor’s office has confirmed that they are in talks with Stericycle about a possible move. None of the state lawmakers out of Tooele County say they have plans yet to file a bill, but Senator Daniel Thatcher says if the county asked him to run a bill, he would do it.
“The fact of the matter is this incinerator provides a necessary service, it provides jobs and it provides a stable tax base," Thatcher says. "If one neighborhood is choosing to prioritize lowering of particles, and another one is choosing to prioritize economic development, frankly I think we should allow the neighborhoods to make those decisions.”
Several sources close to the situation say that an official announcement about a move is imminent.