Vititoe Law Group is part of the investigative team working to gather information on Stericycle in North Salt Lake City, UT. Vititoe Law Group has met and spoken with several concerned residents who live in the Foxboro community adjacent to Stericycle. They wonder if their property values and health have been harmed.
After seeking help in their fight, community activists invited Brockovich and her team to a community meeting on September 28, 2013, at Foxboro Elementary School. Robert Bowcock, chief environmental investigator for Erin Brockovich, stated “It would be dangerous to live in this community if they had complied with their permit. But you’re living in a community where they are violating their permit in orders of magnitude. We probably will never know what you have been exposed to. The North Salt Lake plant initially applied for a permit to burn approximately 1,300 pounds of medical waste per hour. But before it actually opened, the company applied to raise that to 1,850 pounds per hour with the same equipment. Soon after, they won approval to burn 2,500 pounds per hour and are burning 100 percent more than they were originally designed for.” In May 2013, the Utah Division of Air Quality issued a violation notice against Stericycle for record-keeping violations and excess emissions, including higher-than-permitted releases of cancer-causing dioxins, furans and other hazardous substances. Near-by houses are consumed by the plume, particularly those homes built on the Stericycle’s property line. “There’s an elementary school just up the street, for crying out loud,” said Bowcock. “I wouldn’t let the dog pound move next door,” he added. “This company is a notorious polluter in multiple states.”
“We will help the community with their investigation and help the regulators stay on task, and we will investigate any pattern of wrongdoing at the facility,” stated Brockovich. Erin Brockovich and her team of investigators, including a Vititoe Law Group representative, handed out an 18-page questionnaire at the meeting, seeking detailed information about residents’ health, work and home environments and lifestyles, including the source of their drinking water and whether they have excessive dust in their homes. Data collected will be used to document the impacts of Stericycle on the community.
Stericycle is a Medical Waste Incinerator and according to the Department of Air Quality’s website they are allowed to incinerate the following:
- Non-hazardous medical waste, including laboratory waste, glassware, and sharps.
- Surgical specimens and tissues, animal tissues and carcasses, blood, and body fluids.
- Infectious wastes from veterinaries, mortuaries, research, and industry.
- Expired and unused pharmaceuticals and contraband.
- Outdated consumer commodities, proprietary packaging, and records.
- Recalled medical equipment and supplies.
- Agriculture (APHIS) waste, and municipal solid waste contaminated with infectious waste.
- Other non-hazardous waste approved by the Director that is appropriate for a medical waste incinerator.
In December 2011, Utah state regulators discovered Stericycle, located in North Salt Lake City, was violating its permit by emitting some chemicals at four times the allowed amount. State regulators say the medical waste incinerator is violating its permit by putting too many pollutants in the air and falsifying records to disguise its actual emissions.
The Utah Division of Air Quality issued a notice of violation in May 2013 to Stericycle for its operation at 90 N. 1100 West, where it has a permit to incinerate nonhazardous medical waste and is subject to routine stack tests. According to the notice of violation, Stericycle at first attempted to blame tests that were in violation of its emission limits on a flawed laboratory analysis. After the division obtained additional information, it found that a Dec. 27-28, 2011, test exceeded levels for hazardous pollutants, as well as nitrogen oxides, or highly reactive gasses. Bryce Bird, division director, said there were repeated problems with other tests and discrepancies that popped up in the company’s logs that misled regulators. “We received evidence that the loading of material into the incinerator during the tests was not representative of normal operating conditions,” he said. Bird said regulators believed the test loads were deliberately made uniform to alter emission levels.
Please contact Vititoe Law Group for the questionnaire if you or someone you know has been or currently is being potentially impacted by emissions from Stericycle.
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