I am writing as a concerned citizen and physician of South Davis County regarding the Stericycle incineration plant, a facility in North Salt Lake that burns medical waste, broadly defined as any solid waste resulting from the diagnosis or treatment of humans and animals. (For a more complete list of what constitutes “medical waste”, you can refer to Stericycle’s own website: stericycle.com/medical-waste-faqs.)
The Division of Air Quality recently issued a notice of violation against Stericycle alleging the Illinois-based company operated out of compliance with its permit, failed to comply with conditions of the permit, failed to report deviations, and exceeded the permitted limits of dioxin/furan as well as nitrogen oxides emissions. Being out of compliance is bad enough, but then trying to cover up their violations by not reporting them is egregiously unethical.
In a recent town hall meeting organized by people who live near the incinerator, Stericycle representatives failed to apologize for their violations, while claiming to be good neighbors who care about our community. When it came time to address questions from the public, the representatives stated they could stay for only ten minutes more because they had to catch a flight to go home Й to Colorado.
The unfortunate truth is that even if Stericycle were operating in full compliance with its permit, it would still be a large and unacceptable health concern for our community. The scientific findings of the dangers of incinerators are undeniable. Incinerators do not eliminate hazardous substances; they concentrate them and even create new ones. Incinerators emit dioxins, mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, ammonia, and benzene.
These compounds from Stericycle’s emission stream are known to be toxic to the brain and are implicated in multiple neurological disorders including autism, dyslexia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Stericycle performs a task that can and should be done more safely without incineration.
Medical waste incineration is an unnecessary and dangerous pollution-causing process, especially in such a populated area. And Stericycle doesn’t just incinerate local medical waste; they import waste from at least eight other states. An out-of-state business is profiting by jeopardizing the health of our community. Good neighbors don’t pollute. Good neighbors don’t violate agreements and then fail to report their violations. Good neighbors don’t put profit over people. The risks of having Stericycle operate in our community far outweigh any benefits. It is time for Stericycle to shut down. It is past time.
Tyler Yeates, MD,