A while back, I wrote a post for Moms Clean Air Force about Stericycle, a medical incinerating company located in North Salt Lake, Utah. Following allegations that the incinerating company was emitting more dangerous cancer-causing dioxins into the air than allowed, according to the Clean Air Act, I decided to do a little “mommy” research. I was shocked and stunned to learn this was happening in close proximity to residential neighborhoods and schools. I also worried about the years of medical waste incinerated into our air that my children had already inhaled.
After years of struggles and protests, Utahans from North Salt Lake City finally won the battle against Stericycle, one of the biggest air polluters this state has ever seen. The medical waste incinerating company has been operating in North Salt Lake for years, spewing volatile toxins into nearby neighborhoods, schools and eventually making its way into the rest of the Salt Lake Valley. However, after mountains of pressure put on Stericycle by concerned citizens, and a lawsuit between the company and the Utah Department of Air Quality, the company finally agreed to move its operations — but not without a price to our children’s lungs.
In December of 2014, Stericycle and the Utah Department of Air Quality settled a 2.3 million dollar lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by the Utah DAQ, claimed Stericycle’s incinerator violated the limit of emissions allowed. Stericyle also falsified emission documents. In conjunction with the lawsuit, concerned parents (myself included), and sickened citizens, applied pressure to close the medical waste incinerating operation. Unfortunately, they have no plans to close their doors. The suit settlement allows Stericycle to reduce their $2.3 million dollar fine to half that as long as they move their operations within the next 3 years. Moving the incinerator does not mean cleaner air in our lungs. The planned move is to a remote area in Tooele County, still very much a part of the Salt Lake Valley and still very much within breathing vicinity. Remember, we all share the air.
While the first leg of this hard won battle has been won, in Stericycle’s new proposition, after moving to Tooele, they propose to double their current emissions. That’s right. DOUBLE EMISSIONS!
Stericycle and other companies polluting Utah’s air have declared war on our children’s health. Parents, health professionals and the citizens of Utah will continue fight to protect our children from unhealthy air.
Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News