BY REBECCA PALMER
NORTH SALT LAKE — Communities for Clean Air and other environmental groups seeking the shutdown of medical waste incinerator Stericycle will rally on Utah’s capitol hill on Wednesday, Sept. 11 in an effort to bring statewide attention to their cause.
The rally will start at 1 p.m. in front of the governor’s office, according to a press release from organizers.
The groups say Stericycle has been caught falsifying records, emitting more deadly toxins than their permit allows and was “ caught cheating again,” on Friday, Sept. 6 when plumes of black smoke were captured on video being emitted from the building.
“Medical studies have confirmed that incinerators are a serious public health threat,” according to the release. “Stericycle should never have been allowed here and now we have more proof of their cheating and their out of control operation.”
The video in question shows black smoke coming from the short, fat bypass smokestack at the North Salt Lake plant. Stericycle is allowed to use this bypass stack in certain situations, but is supposed to report every such instance within 24 hours.
The company could have been operating within the law on Friday, but a report released by the Utah Division of Air Quality in May showed that the company had failed to report similar bypass events as required by law. During such events, the air scrubber and pollution control systems are not used, letting all the smoke from burning medical equipment such as needles into the atmosphere. That day, residents of nearby Foxboro reported finding ash blanketing their homes and yards.
The state report also found that the plant had been exceeding allowed emissions of nitrogen oxide and dioxin and had been out of compliance for almost 18 months.
Cherise Udell of Utah Moms for Clean Air wants the plant shut down for the way it seems to be poisoning the area.
"We know the toxic releases from Stericycle are hazardous to human health. DAQ knows it," she said in an email. "Governer Herbert knows it. Stericycle knows it. Allowing the Stericycle medical incinerator in North Salt Lake to remain operating in our community is nothing less than condoning a form of modern-day human sacrifice in the name of profit."
The video of Friday’s bypass event was first published by Environews.tv, which has covered the controversy since it erupted in May. Watch at environews.tv/massive-emergency-bypass-goes-down-at-stericycle-medical-waste-plant-as-panicked-local-residents-run-for-cover.