NORTH SALT LAKE - The day before a massive clean air rally was held at the Utah State Capitol, medical waste incinerator Stericycle announced it was in the process of securing land in Tooele County to move its North Salt Lake facility.
But environmentalist activist Alicia Connell doesn’t trust that the Illinois-based company is as committed to leaving Davis County as they claim.
“Are they really going to move?” she asked, “Or are they planning to get their permit renewed and continue their operation here?”
Stericycle announced on Friday that the Utah School and Institutional Trust Administration (SITLA) has agreed to sell the company land west of the Stansbury Mountains.
However, the deal is by no means finalized. It still requires legislative approval and state permitting among other authorizations before the company can proceed.
In the meantime, company officials announced plans to upgrade the North Salt Lake facility’s emission control equipment to end power outages, the most common cause of bypass events. Such events allow toxic emissions to vent into the air.
“Power outages are common. We can’t control that,” Jim Nold, Stericycle’s director of field services said. A more powerful electrical generator is among upgrades the company plans to install, he said.
Connell though is suspicious of that gesture.
“I think that’s their way of getting their permits renewed,” she said, adding, “I do think the system needs to be upgraded.”
However, she also questions why Stericycle’s generator wasn’t built big enough initially to handle the bypass events.
Restaurants and convenience stores continue operating when the power goes out, she said, and when their power goes out it doesn’t do anything bad to people’s health.
Still, she agrees the system needs upgrading to stop the bypass events, the most recent of which happened on Jan. 22.
As to the proposed move, “I don’t want to send our problem to anyone. The people of Tooele don’t deserve the bad air.”
If the deal to move is approved, the land Stericycle plans to acquire is in a remote portion of Tooele County. Company officials did not say where the land is, but speculation is that it is near other industrial waste sites such as EnergySolutions.
Two Davis County lawmakers whose districts include Foxboro, the neighborhood where Stericycle is located, are drafting legislation that would limit how close medical waste incinerators could be to schools and residential areas.