Incinerator Bill Passes House Putting Buffer Between Stacks and Homes

stericycleSoon incinerators will need to take a big step back. On Tuesday the House voted 44-28 on SB 196 to ban new incinerator facilities within two miles away from neighborhoods.

Representative Becky Edwards (Republican – North Salt Lake), the bill’s House sponsor, said that initially when Stericycle, a medical waste incineration facility, came to North Salt Lake, it was in an isolated location. Now, the facility abuts residential zones and residents are calling for a change.

A new location, which is intended to be placed in the West Desert, will be further from current residential areas when Edwards’ bill becomes law. “In a nutshell, [the bill] does not prevent later changes that a city may make related to that same facility, it only deals with new facilities that are incinerating [medical waste],” said Edwards.

The bill comes with recent demands that Stericycle move from North Salt Lake to a more remote area. Stericycle was recently cited by state authorities for emitting higher than allowed pollutants in the Wasatch Front air-shed. The new site for Stericyle is expected to be 35 miles outside the city of Grantsville, Utah.

Representative Kay Christopherson (Republican – Lehi) spoke in favor of the bill, but noted that both sides should be considered in the future. “I don’t know too many facilities that locate where they disturb a residence too often. We really ought to be proposing legislation that says residence can’t encroach on an area close to facilities that have already been in existence,” said Christopherson.

Representative Curt Webb (Republican – Logan) addressed his concerns over the size of the buffer, noting that the two mile buffer makes up roughly 10,000 acres of land. Webb asked “That’s a lot of land. How is that achieved?” Edwards answered by explaining the current situation regarding Stericyle, noting that the land they plan to build on is exempt from the issue, but in general it is not intended for the facilities to buy the two mile radius. Edwards noted that Stericycle is only medical waste incinerator West of the Mississippi, but that if a new facility were to come to Utah, the decision would be left up to the city.

The bill will be sent to Governor for a signature.

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