BY REBECCA PALMER
NORTH SALT LAKE — Nothing was amiss when Foxboro development got its first approvals from North Salt Lake, said North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave, despite the fact that Stericycle’s medical incinerator plant was already in the neighborhood.
Arave was on the Planning Commission for those first approvals, which included a zone change from industrial to residential. Because he was the CFO for Woodside group at the time, he recused himself from discussion or votes about the development. The Woodside Group is the holding company for Woodside Homes, the Foxboro developer.
City approvals for new Foxboro homes have continued since the Stericycle problems came to light, without public comment. The developer has a vested interest in them and the most recent nods from the city were simply final approvals, Arave said. The new homes will be much farther from Stericycle than other homes have been.
Meanwhile, Arave and the city are waiting to take any action until a final decision on penalties for Stericycle is released by the air quality division.
“I would like to see what the state has to say as they’re going through their permitting process on this,” Arave said. “After this, we can look at their conditional permits and see if they’re living up to those.”
Neighbors in south Davis County have created the Communities for Clean Air group and are pushing for Stericycle to be shut down, or at least to make changes in its emissions protocol. One of its leaders has requested copies of multiple public records in an attempt to investigate the first Foxboro nods.
Famed consumer advocate Erin Brokovich has also joined the fight, according to her researcher Bob Bowcock, based in California, but she didn’t attend a protest held last week. Bowcock is particularly concerned about why the Foxboro neighborhood was allowed so close to the Stericycle plant, and for the children living there.
“That’s the whole thing that just drives me nuts is the schools,” he said. “I think there’s something fishy going on here.”
Representative Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, attended the protest, saying that if the issue was important to her constituents, it’s important to her. A complete shutdown of Stericycle is possible, if unlikely, she said. She wants multiple government agencies such as the city, the Utah Division of Air Quality, the governor and state legislature to meet and discuss solutions.
Dr. Brian Moench, an environmental activist who leads Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, spoke at the protest in front of the Stericycle plant. His bright protest sign read, “Hipocritic oath HARM DONE.”
If necessary, Moench said he and Communities for Clean Air could take their fight to hospital groups, which contribute the medical waste Stericycle incinerates such as used needles, blood, potentially infected clothing and more.