BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
NORTH SALT LAKE – In the wake of growing concerns about the danger to the health of area residents posed by medical waste incinerator Stericycle, Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered a three-tiered health study be conducted on the health impacts to residents.
On Thursday, Oct. 24, the governor sent letters to Stericycle President Charles A. Alutto, North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave and the Salt Lake County Council detailing the study that will be conducted by the Utah Department of Health, in cooperation with the Davis County Health Department and other agencies.
The governor noted he had received a formal request from Arave for the study.
The study will include:
Ґ A health consultation to identify and address potential health effects of dioxin and furan release from the Stericycle medical waste incineration facility, including a literature review, examining exposures to dioxins and furans at similar industrial sites.
ҐAn analysis of any existing soil samples from the Stericycle site.
Ґ An assessment of health effects in the area surrounding the Stericycle plant, involving the collection and laboratory analysis of soil samples from areas most likely to be contaminated,
“As an added measure, I requested the health consultation be certified by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry,” the governor wrote to Alutto.
Meanwhile, the process of possibly relocating the company based in Illinois, is farther along than it was when environmental activist Erin Brockovich joined Foxboro residents a month ago to protest the medical waste facility.
“I think it’s safe to say that resident involvement has helped move the process along, but Stericycle and the city have been in discussions for some time,” Arave said.
He confirmed last week that Stericycle is looking seriously at relocating its facility, currently housed within the Foxboro subdivision boundaries, blocks away from Foxboro Elementary School.
However, he said there is no final decision, nor time frame set.
Arave couldn’t say where the beleaguered company is considering moving, but did say the company is closer to finding a new location and that company officials have told the city they recognize the business is incompatible with its current location.
Stericycle incinerates medical waste from seven western states and is the only facility of its type in the west.
In May, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality issued a violation notice to the company for exceeding emission limits on nitrogen oxide, dioxins and other hazardous pollutants.
The company faces potential fines from the state’s Division of Air Quality for violations that occurred between December 2001 and April 2013, according to the division.
Stericycle attorneys submitted a request for agency action to the state DAQ denying the company’s emissions violated its operating permit and blaming high emissions numbers in one sampling on faulty lab analysis.
They maintain they are operating in full compliance with state guidelines.
State legislators Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, and Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake are both looking at measures they can support to move the facility or close its doors.