Stericycle

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.

Brian Grimmett

The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that aims to prevent another controversy like the one surrounding the Stericycle medical waste incinerator from happening again in the future.

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.

Utah House lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow state-specific solutions to air pollution.

Republican Rep. Becky Edwards, R- North Salt Lake, has a bill to loosen a law that prevents state environmental rules from being stricter than federal ones. She says Utah knows how to clean up its air better than the federal government does.

“HB121 allows for local control to address our local needs,” says Edwards. “This is another example of how states are more effective and do things better than the federal one-size-fits all solutions.”

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

  A Utah Senate committee voted down a bill Friday that would have kept medical incinerators at least five miles away from homes. 

Senate Bill 64 would have increased fines for air quality violations by medical waste incinerators, increased the length of time allowed for investigating violations and  imposed a five-mile buffer between homes and any medical waste incinerator in the state.

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. 

Brian Grimmett

 

North Salt Lake City residents will elect their leaders next week, and those running for office say that Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator has become a major issue in their campaigns. The company and the state Division of Air Quality are engaged in a legal battle over whether the incinerator exceeded permitted levels of pollutants in its emissions. Meanwhile, citizens are calling on city leaders to move the incinerator or shut it down. In the 2nd of our two part series we take a  look at North Salt Lake City’s options.

Brian Grimmett

The interactive timeline explores the events that led up to the development of the Foxboro neighborhood in North Salt Lake.

Brian Grimmett

North Salt Lake is home to one of the last medical waste incinerators in the country. Stericycle, the company that operates the incinerator, came under scrutiny this summer after state officials cited it for violating emissions standards. Residents of the Foxboro neighborhood became concerned about this plant operating next door. Many bought homes there without knowing that pollutants were being released into their neighborhood.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

The Utah Department of Health is doing a public health assessment in the North Salt Lake neighborhood near Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator. State officials say they are focused primarily on investigating levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the soil.

Amid public concern about air pollution generated by Stericycle’s North Salt Lake incinerator, two major hospital systems in Utah say they are reconsidering their processes for disposing of medical waste. Officials from University of Utah Health Sciences and Intermountain Healthcare say they are exploring their options, but are continuing to use Stericycle’s incinerator for the time being.

Andrea Smardon

As activists and community members step up the pressure to shut down a North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator, Stericycle officials are denying the company violated emissions limits or rigged stack test results. They are challenging a list of citations filed by Utah regulators against the company's incinerator. That means the beginning of a legal process that could take months.

Andrea Smardon

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich was in North Salt Lake City over the weekend to join the fight against Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator. Brockovich is lending her celebrity status and investigatory resources to community members who want the incinerator out of their neighborhood. Brockovich says she came to North Salt Lake because concerned mothers asked her to.

Andrea Smardon

As angry residents continue to protest Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator and its toxic emissions, some local officials have been discussing the possibility of moving the plant to another location.

North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave met with Stericycle’s  Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs earlier this week. He says he thinks the incinerator should find another home outside the city, and that Stericycle may be open to that possibility.

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

Republican State Senator Todd Weiler of Woods Cross says he’s filing a bill to ban medical waste incineration in Utah. The announcement comes after Stericycle’s North Salt Lake incinerator allegedly exceeded its permitted levels of toxic pollutants and falsified its emissions tests. Nearby residents and environmental activists have called for the incinerator to be closed down. 

Andrea Smardon

Erin Brockovich and her team of environmental activists have made their presence known to North Salt Lake officials.  An investigator who works with Brockovich spoke to city councilors and the mayor Tuesday night, asking them to exert some local control and help protect citizens from the air pollution emitted by Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator.

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich is turning her attention to North Salt Lake City. At the request of residents, Brockovich and her team have decided to conduct an independent investigation into air pollution violations by Stericycle and the company’s medical waste incinerator. Angry residents and activists are protesting in front of Stericycle Thursday evening demanding that Governor Gary Herbert shut it down.

Andrea Smardon

Activist groups and North Salt Lake residents are planning another protest of Stericycle, a medical waste incinerator accused of violating pollution limits and falsifying emissions tests.  The event on August 15th is being planned after state regulators gave the company a second extension to decide if it will challenge the allegations against them.

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