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Stericycle caught spewing illegal toxins
Jun 08, 2013 | 3641 views | 0 0 comments | 470 470 recommendations | email to a friend | print

BY MELINDA WILLIAMS

Clipper Staff Writer

NORTH SALT LAKE — Environmentalists are saying that it’s time that Stericycle shut down.

The medical incinerator, located near Foxboro, was issued a notice of violation last week for exceeding emissions standards.

The company has until June 14 to submit a plan of action to the Utah Division of Air Quality, and if the plan isn’t followed, it could mean penalties for the company.

The notice accuses the company not only of exceeding limits of dioxin/furan and nitrogen oxides discharged into the air, but with failure to report those overages and “failure to operate the plant in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practices.”

The company is already taking steps to rectify its pollution problem by building additional pollution control devices, according to Bryce Bird, state DAQ director, and he expects the company to respond before the deadline with a plan. 

However, some environmentalists say it’s time the company closes.

“Why is this facility allowed to operate virtually in the middle of the most heavily populated area of the state, as an immediate neighbor to hundreds of residents?” said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

It’s a concerned echoed by Bountiful resident and physician Dr. Scott Hurst, whose oldest daughter and her family live in Foxboro.

“At this time I am incredulous that a health waste incinerator is allowed to operate anywhere near a residential or urban environment,” Hurst said. “Most hospitals shut down their incinerators years ago, and most commercial facilities have closed nationwide due to their potential health risk,” he said.

Stericycle can be assumed to release toxins known to be released from other medical incinerators, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds  halogenated hydrocarbons and dioxins, Hurst said:

“These are chemicals for which there are no safe levels.”

Problems leading to the notice began at the plant with the report of the stack test conducted on Dec. 27 and 28, 2011. 

The report indicated elevated levels of dioxin/furan.

Stericycle said it believed the report was wrong because of a flawed laboratory analysis, according to the notice. However, review of the report found that in addition to the excessive dioxin/furan emissions, the company had also exceeded nitrogen oxide levels.

“On June 28, 2012, DAQ received from Stericycle production data which included handwritten charge logs,” the notice said. “These logs indicate that during the Dec. 27-28, 2011 stack test, Stericycle deliberately operated the incinerator in a manner unrepresentative of normal operating conditions during NOx (nitrogen oxide) test runs 4-6 in order to achieve NOx emissions which were within the NOx limit,” the notice said.

Other examples showed that the company failed to submit reports on all instances of deviation when it submitted information for its annual compliance certificate.

Attempts to reach Stericycle were unsuccessful.

mwilliams@davisclipper.com

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