By Joseph M. Dougherty, Deseret News
Published: Sunday, Oct. 12 2008 12:15 a.m. MDT
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency receives public comment on a North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator, the agency is going to get an earful.
But how much of that earful actually pertains to the renewed state air-quality permit Stericycle is applying for may be up for debate.
During a public hearing in Salt Lake City Thursday night, Cindy King of the Sierra Club and Bradley Angel of Greenaction berated Utah Division of Air Quality officials for failing to let individual residents know about the public hearing.
The division had placed public notices in the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and Davis County Clipper, and on its Web site.
But Angel and King said that's not enough.
People who wanted to be on an e-mail list about Stericycle's activities should have received notice about the meeting and should be included on any and all e-mail lists about Stericycle coming from the division, they said.
“You guys screwed up,” Angel said.
“Big time,” King added.
Angel said he recognizes that Stericycle, which operates a medical-waste incinerator in North Salt Lake, emits harmful pollutants such as lead, mercury and dioxins. However, it isn't the worst polluter near Foxboro, a housing development with many young families that borders Stericycle's land. Three oil refineries and I-15 — with its thousands of cars and diesel trucks — contribute significant pollution to the area.
But Angel predicts that Stericycle will one day shut down its incinerator.
He hopes the company can phase it out and replace it with autoclave technology to destroy infectious medical waste.
Angel said he takes issue with the lack of monitoring the division conducts on Stericycle and said he feels insulted that the division reports its most recent test in 2006 as actual emissions.
Stericycle is charged with monitoring itself and reporting any emergency bypasses or excessive pollutant levels to the state.
But it doesn't have to report bypasses during startup and shutdown, Angel says, adding that pollutants likely escape during those periods.
To the Utah Division of Air Quality, it looks as if Stericycle is in compliance.
The permitted levels of toxic pollutants that the incinerator may emit are well below the level that affects humans and animals to the slightest degree, and measured emissions are well below permitted levels, said division toxicologist Steve Packham.
According to division records, in the past five years, Stericycle had two violations, which had to do with timely submissions of required reports.
The comment period closes Monday. To submit written comments or for questions, contact Robert Grandy at 801-536-4024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.