Currently, there is no ban on the incineration of medical waste in Utah, and State Sen. Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross) is looking to change that. Weiler, who’s district contains a Stericycle medical waste incineration facility, is drafting a bill that could potentially ban the practice in the state.
The action comes after months of citizen protests against the Stericyle plant in North Salt Lake. The plant existed well before the Foxboro community grew on the city’s west side, however recent high-profile incineration exhaust releases have made the plant a target for some of the 5,000 residents who live near the facility.
According to a report from the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ), Stericyle’s alleged violations took place between December 2011 and April 2013. They include: failing to maintain normal operating conditions during a stack test, and exceeding emissions limits for dioxin, furan, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. Stericycle is also being accused of failing to report these excessive emissions to the DAQ in annual and semi-annual monitoring reports.
These violations first drew the attention of Senator Jim Dabakis (Democrat – Salt Lake city), who’s district is near the Stericycle plant. During an interview with Fox 13, Dabakis said “The legislature has [an attitude that says], ‘We don’t want to hear about regulations. We don’t want to get involved. We don’t want regulations, and we will accept only the minimum number of regulations that the federal government requires’” “It is because they listen to the corporate polluters voice, and they get campaign contributions.”
Stericycle, whose corporate headquarters are in Lake Forest, Illinois, was originally given 15 days from the date they were cited to bring its operations in compliance with the Utah law. They have since been granted three extensions by the state. Companies that aren’t compliant with state law can be fined up to $10,000 a day until the violations are fixed.
If Weiler’s proposal were to pass, Utah would join 39 other states that ban medical waste incineration.
Editor’s note: Senator Weiler is scheduled to appear on The UPC Show this Saturday, September 14th at 9:35 to discuss his proposal. Readers are invited to listen at AM 630, online at www.k-talk.com, or listen to the rebroadcast next Monday morning on utahpoliticalcapitol.com