Our View: Stericycle smokes the air

Jan 17 2014 - 5:45pm

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If Stericycle can't comply with state regulatory rules, or prevent mechanical malfunctions that allow its incinerated medical waste to spew into the air without scrubbers or filters, or upgrade to cleaner technology, the company needs to get out of North Salt Lake. It's not a good neighbor. It smokes the air and resists efforts to make its operation safer.

Recently, for about five minutes, Stericycle, a medical waste incinerator, lost the use of its scrubbers and filters that allegedly prevent many toxins from spewing into the air. As a result, large black plumes of smoke befouled the Top of Utah, harming the air, which of course harms the health of individuals.

It was a "power bump" that left Stericycle briefly without scrubbers and filters. The company has a pitiful, dangerous record on air quality. Last May, the Utah Department of Air Quality issued Stericycle a notice of violation and order to comply due to multiple violations of its air-quality operating permit.

Frankly, in a world in which we cared mostly about the air we breathe, such a report would have shut Stericycle down. However, the company, which burns medical waste from eight states, is fighting many of the findings. The matter is now referred to an administrative judge.

Meanwhile, inversions occur, Stericycle incinerates its waste and contributes to a sometimes-stinky, often unhealthy air quality. 

Those who find this current situation upsetting are invited to attend the Clean Air, No Excuses rally at noon Jan. 25 at the Utah Capitol. It's hosted by the group Communities for Clean Air. We hope there's a large attendance; according to one report, close to 2,000 persons have already signed to attend. 

Utah lawmakers need to always be reminded of the dangers of having a Stericycle in Utah.

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