medical waste incineration

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

The Utah Air Quality Board has approved a 2.3 million dollar settlement between the medical waste company Stericycle and state environmental regulators.

To be clear, Vice President of Stericycle’s Corporate Communications Jennifer Koenig says the company is not admitting fault for alleged emissions violations at its North Salt Lake incinerator, but she says they’re pleased with the settlement.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

The company that operates a medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake City has agreed to pay a record 2.3 million dollar fine. If approved by Utah’s Air Quality Board at their meeting Wednesday, the settlement would resolve allegations that Stericycle’s incinerator violated emissions limits and falsified stack test results. Bryce Bird, Director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, says it’s a strong settlement.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

The Utah Attorney General’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of misconduct at Stericycle’s incinerator in North Salt Lake.  It’s part of a multifaceted investigative effort announced Thursday by the Governor’s office.

Environews USA

A former worker from Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake City has accused the company of illegally burning radioactive waste. Nearby residents are asking Governor Gary Herbert once again to shut down the incinerator.

Medical waste company Stericycle has cleared another hurdle in its effort to relocate its incinerator from North Salt Lake to Tooele County. The local planning commission approved a conditional use permit for the new facility this month, though two commissioners voted against it.

Stericycle Vice President of Corporate Communications  Jennifer Koenig says the permit is necessary to move forward with a new facility, but it’s only one step among many.

A Tooele County commissioner says he wants to impose regular fees and a penalty fine structure on Stericycle’s proposed medical waste incinerator should the company decide to relocate there.

Commissioner Shawn Milne acknowledges that his community has welcomed businesses in the past that others did not want, but he says commissioners want to ensure that the environment and people are protected.

“We don’t want to just accept any business here carte blanche without any consideration for what long term consequences there might be,” Milne says.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Tooele County citizens met Wednesday night to talk about the possibility of letting Stericycle build a new medical waste incinerator in the area. After a series of informational meetings organized by Stericycle, this town hall was organized by residents.

The meeting at Stansbury High School was organized by Katrina Hill of Stansbury Park, who says she’s never done anything like this before.

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

Environmental investigators working with Erin Brockovich have uncovered some new evidence that hazardous chemicals are accumulating in the homes of those who live close to Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake.  An investigator from the Brockovich team and community advocates met with Governor Gary Herbert Wednesday to share their findings.

Brian Grimmett

A bill that would prohibit the permitting of new medical waste incinerators within two miles of a residential community passed a legislative committee Friday, and now heads to the state Senate for consideration. A Republican lawmaker’s bill has succeeded where a Democrat’s bill failed.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

A house committee gave unanimous approval to a resolution Wednesday that would allow Stericycle to move their medical waste incinerator to Tooele County.

Andrea Smardon / KUER News

Environmental activists and concerned residents rallied in front of Governor Gary Herbert’s office Thursday to let him know that they would not be satisfied until Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake is shut down.  A recent health report by the state, and news that the company may move its incinerator to Tooele County have not changed protestors' minds.

Andrea Smardon

The Utah Department of Health has completed an analysis of 35 years of cancer data in the area surrounding Stericycle’s North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator. The study shows no increased environmental cancer risk for residents in South Davis County.

Brian Grimmett

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.  

Andrea Smardon

Last year, clean air activists called on Utah’s hospitals and clinics to stop sending their waste to Stericycle’s incinerator in North Salt Lake. One of the state’s largest healthcare providers, The University of Utah, is looking at some significant changes to the way it handles medical waste, but there are some types of waste that university officials say they have no other option at this time but to burn.

A group of Utah physicians is accusing the governor and the state’s health department of misleading the public about the safety hazards of living near a medical waste incinerator. They are calling on Utah’s hospitals to boycott Stericycle’s North Salt Lake incinerator and stop sending their waste there.

At his monthly KUED news conference, Governor Gary Herbert said it is government’s role to protect the public, and that’s why he has ordered the state health department to conduct an investigation into Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator.