GRANTSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Embattled medical waste incinerator Stericycle held its fourth public hearing in Tooele County Tuesday night and just like the others it was poorly attended.
After an emissions violation in 2011 Stericycle came under scrutiny by residents living in North Salt Lake. In the years since, multiple bypass events have been caught on camera and residents have rallied to get medical waste incinerator out of their neighborhood. So now Stericycle has set its eyes on a new home in Tooele County.
Stericycle’s proposed new facility will be operated on a 40-acre parcel of land located off of Rowley Road, across from the Republic landfill and approximately 20 miles from Grantsville.
“It’s in a location that’s quite remote,” said Stericycle spokesperson Jennifer Koenig. “I think we’re about 16 miles from the nearest residents and it’s zoned so that it will be commercial.”
Koenig and two other Stericycle employees met with the handful of residents Tuesday night to try and clear up concerns or misconceptions they may have about the regulated medical waste industry.
Koenig told ABC 4 Utah, “It’s considered best practice to incinerate trace chemotherapy, unused pharmaceuticals and pathological waste.”
Stericycle says off all the medical waste they handle only 15% is incinerated, the other 85% is sterilized in a steaming process, called autoclave, and then sent to landfills.
“Autoclave is the most common one,” explained Koenig. “It’s a water-based steam process and if you’re putting trace chemotherapy or pharmaceuticals in that it goes to the water supply.”
Under Utah law pathological waste, bloodied things or body parts, need to be incinerated or interred, but Stericycle says it's difficult in Utah to find landfills that will take that kind of medical waste so they're left to burning it.
But Grantsville resident Laura Bullock-Hill wants to ensure that's done in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
“I have concerns about our environment and I keep hearing about the problem in North Salt Lake and I feel like they’re being kicked out of there…so why not go to Tooele County?” said Bullock-Hill.
Tooele County Commissioner candidate Wade Bitner says the improved emissions that Stericycle will be forced to comply with in their new facility are very impressive, but he wants to be sure bringing the company to Tooele won't perpetuate the county's long-standing reputation.
“The belief is that we have a dumping ground in Tooele County and that is not correct,” said Bitner. “So we don’t want any more perceptions that this is going to be bad, and from what I’ve seen here and understand, I don’t think it’s bad.”
The next public hearing has been scheduled for May 7th from 4-6:30 at the Tooele County Building.
Tours of their North Salt Lake facility are also available Tuesday, May 6th at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Space is limited and reservations are required.
For more information contact Jennifer Koenig at firstname.lastname@example.org