Stericycle pays $2.6M to resolve alleged clean air violations

Ever since a series of incinerator bypasses poured toxic black smoke into the nearby neighborhoods, UPHE has been working to shut down Stericycle, the medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake. It didn’t hurt the cause that “Stericycle made headlines in 2013 after state air quality regulators documented instances where the incinerator, located next to the Foxboro neighborhood,” exceeded their permitted emissions and falsified their stack tests.

Although the effort did not succeed in shutting them down, it did force an agreement for Stericycle to move to a remote location and pay a large fine. It turns out, not surprisingly, that nobody else wants an incinerator by them either. Finally, a mere eight years later, the EPA took our side on the battle and weighed in on Friday, albeit too tepidly, substantially increasing the fine and supposedly Stericycle will shut down in 1-2 years.

Read Salt Lake Tribune coverage here.

Given the history however, we are a bit skeptical of that commitment. We intend to follow up on this because we were promised that Stericycle would be long gone by now. We want to see the details behind this new agreement.

To have some of their fine go to purchasing new school buses is a welcomed development, because the last thing we should tolerate is our children having to breathe toxic diesel fumes to and from school. Pollution can be several times higher inside an old school bus than outside.

Incinerating medical waste is an inappropriate and counterproductive means of handling any waste, but especially medical waste, because most of the hazards are not eliminated by incineration, new ones like dioxins are created, and they are only spread over a wider area.