Whistleblower: Medical Waste Madness ‘The Devil’s Work’
Stericycle Plant Whistleblower Tells All (Documentary)
Above photo: North Salt Lake residents and clean air advocates rally to demand that Gov. Gary Herbert shut down Stericycle’s incinerator on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. Stericycle is a biohazard waste disposal company located in North Salt Lake. Laura Seitz, Deseret News
(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — The Hippocratic Oath is a pledge that over 98% of medical students recite on graduation day. Their sacred pledge: “DO NO HARM.” — but little do most of them realize that a downright deadly culprit is undoing and undermining their solemnly sworn Hippocratic Oath — transforming it into a “Hypocritical Oath” of disease and destruction, the very day they open the doors on their medical practices.
So, just who or what is this seemingly sinister foe to the sacred pledge of those budding young MDs one might ask? The dangerous villain in this story, the one that threatens the integrity of their “do no harm” promise, is indeed born of the medical industry itself.
The business of medical waste disposal is said to be a “necessary evil” when it comes to the Western medical complex as a whole, but more specifically the old and outdated method of medical waste incineration offers possibly the greatest threat to the integrity of the most fundamental medical philosophy, coined by Hippocrates, “the Father of Medicine” himself, many centuries ago.
Tonight from North Salt Lake City’s, community of Foxboro we bring you a tale of medical waste madness so horrid and sketchy, that at times, it takes on a resemblance the likes of a Quentin Tarantino movie to coin the words of our own Executive Editor Emerson Urry.
The emissions from medical waste incineration contain, and create as byproducts, some of the most dangerous and deadly substances on the planet. Dioxin, furan, mercury, lead, cadmium, hydrogen sulfide gas, diseased cadaver parts, virus-tainted blood, aborted fetuses, cancerous tumors, narcotic and pharmaceutical drugs and radioactive cancer treatment byproducts are just for starters when discussing this disease-causing cocktail — and when it comes to the straight burning of this incredibly lethal and carcinogenic brew, few companies come to mind before Illinois-based medical waste giant Stericycle.
Stericycle has been in the med-waste game for two-and-a-half decades, and is notorious for setting up shop and dumping deadly medical waste in somebody else’s backyard. In the case of North Salt Lake’s backyard, the waste comes from at least eight states including California – states that have in many cases wised up enough to effectively shut down the open burning of medical waste by implementing their own, stricter-than-Federal air quality standards.
In a few innermost environmental circles, there have been mutterings for years about the ghastly things that were purported to have actually been going on behind closed doors at the facility, but tonight, for the first time publically, EnviroNews Utah brings you an up close and personal account of what one plant worker says went on when he worked there — that, coming up just a little later in the show.
Citizen at town hall meeting: When you found out you were out of compliance why didn’t you stop until you were in compliance? Why did you continue to burn?
Selin Hoboy, VP legislative and regulatory affairs for Stericycle: We retested as soon as we identified that we were out of compliance. We also…
Citizen at town hall meeting: But you were out of compliance for three years.
Hoboy: No, sir…
Citizen at town hall meeting: You just said 2011 – 2012.
Hoboy: December of 2011 was when our stack test was done and so we have made adjustments, and we actually installed additional equipment.
Citizen at town hall meeting: But you continued to burn during those times.
Hoboy: We have continued to operate.
The controversy surrounding Stericycle in Utah erupted at a town hall in June of 2013 where representatives of the beleaguered corporation attempted to quell community concerns about poor air quality and explain Stericycle’s own admission that it cooked the books and falsified air test documents.
Citizen 2 at town hall meeting: Do you admit that you were in violation of the permit previously, and if so how did this occur and how do we ever trust you again?
Hoboy: It’s valid and I appreciate that question. The question was “Have we been in violation before and how do you trust us now that we’re back in compliance?”
At local EnviroNews Utah we have been quietly monitoring the befuddling activities of the old waste burner for many years, and we were stunned when we heard that representatives from Stericycle itself were actually going to appear and speak at the town hall – an opportunity that some people had been waiting on for over a decade. Here’s another peak of what went down inside that meeting.
Citizen 3 at town hall meeting: It’s not just because I don’t like the color of their fence. It’s because I believe I’ve been personally affected by that incinerator. My wife had complications with her pregnancy where the doctor said “I’ve never seen anything like this.” My child was born with defects. So when people come up here and say “Don’t attack them” or…first, let me say thank you to my councilman that are here because last time we were here this neighborhood hasn’t smelled so good since. That’s the truth. But when I hear of the impacts it has on other mothers, there’s so many children within our community.
Citizen 4 at town hall meeting: So based on what he just said I think we are missing the whole point who cares if they are in compliance? That’s apparently compliance. The question is “How do we shut them down?” We don’t want them in compliance; we want them gone.
With members of the crowd claiming they were experiencing health issues and medical conditions in their children from the activities of Stericycle and the surrounding oil refineries, Republican Utah State Senator Todd Weiler attempted to placate the irate masses when he said in a snarky tone that he would run an incinerator ban bill, knowing full well that it couldn’t get passed through the Utah state government. He said he would run the bill if that is what his constituents wanted.
Weiler at the town hall: Again, I can tell with all the certainty the bill will not go very far, but I will run it. I’ve made that commitment tonight. I’ll stick my neck out, I’ll do everything I can, but I’m not going to come here and give you a bunch of false promises and false hope. That’s not who I am.
Nineveh Dinha: You were at a town hall meeting on July 5 (she intended to say June 27) addressing this very issue. We want to listen in to what you had to say as part of that.
Weiler at the town hall: You are my only priority. That’s why I don’t take corporate money; that’s why I don’t take special interest money. If you want me to run a bill, I’ll run it. I’m telling you right now, I don’t think it will pass, but I’ll run it…
Nineveh Dinha: Alright so it’s that last bit right there. You know, you saying that you are going to run this legislation; “I’ll run it, but I don’t think it’s going to pass.” Why would you say that?
Weiler at the town hall: We’re a business friendly, pro-business legislature that’s what I was trying to explain to that crowd.
Stericycle representatives high-tailed it out of the meeting leaving community members without the opportunity to present most of their concerns.
Citizen 5: A lot of people here have children and family members that have health issues that live right around here, and I just find it really alarming that you guys are leaving at 8 o’clock. Is there no way that you can stay and answer our questions? It feels like you came for a few minutes…
Hoboy: I do apologize. No, I apologize.
Weiler: I don’t think its fair. They didn’t have to come at all, I asked them to come. I don’t think it’s fair… I think we should be thanking them for coming… They didn’t have to come at all, and I just don’t think it’s fair. I asked them to extend their flights. She has a wedding tomorrow.
Citizens: Let’s quit wasting time and ask more questions. How much do they donate to your campaign?
Hoboy: Anyway, thank you again for the opportunity. I do apologize. I wish we had longer notice that, although, I’m in a wedding tomorrow so there’s not a whole lot additional that I could’ve done. I do apologize, and we are committed to the community, and will be getting in touch with Alicia to see what questions we (can answer).
Weiler: And I don’t want to take over this meeting, but I’m happy to answer questions.
Cindy King of the Sierra Club: Senator, can I make a point of clarification?
King: I’ve tried for eight years working with Stericycle, and in the five times I’ve scheduled meetings with Stericycle, they jumped out of every meeting. So, not to be disrespectful to you; I scheduled meetings with two months notice, and they skipped out. This isn’t unusually for their behavior. They do it all the time.
Weiler: Okay and all I can do is testify from my experience. My experience was I first talked to them Monday, and they were very cooperative, andI’m sorry that you had that experience. It does help to have a title with your name, and I don’t deny that.
Hoboy: We do provide a very necessary service to the community, and so it’s our intention to stay and be a good neighbor. We have no plans to relocate. We have 50 employees that… in that community as well, that are working.
Citizen: We’ll get them jobs.
After an ensuing media firestorm spearheaded by EnviroNews Utah, Fox13, Standard Examiner, the Salt Lake Tribune and others, coupled with continued pressure from citizens and community environmental groups, Stericycle finally relented and announced that it would agree to move its facility out to Tooele – a meager 30 miles west and directly upwind from the greater Salt Lake Valley airshed. Not much comfort when incinerator poison is known to travel even for hundreds of miles.
The deal was constructed in back-room fashion and announced by Christina Rendon of local ABC 4 News who to that point had not been reporting on the issue.
Rendon: Oh, that’s right. After a city council meeting last week, North Salt Lake officials say they met with Stericycle and the Division of Air Quality. Now it may take some time, but Stericycle might be leaving the city.
The parties involved in the scheme to move the incinerator west were at least these that we know of: Stericycle, the Governor’s office, the Utah Department of Air Quality or DAQ, Senator Todd Weiler who had been Stericycle’s practical sole liaison to the outside world for months, and Len Arave current mayor of North Salt Lake City and former CFO of Woodside Homes while he was on the City Council, when the Foxboro housing development around Stericycle was approved. Add the Tooele County Planning Commission to that lineup, and you’ve got your deal.
Dinha: And then I understand that you were the CFO for Woodside Homes, which is the builder for Foxboro and then you were on the planning commission at the same time. Was that not a conflict of interests?
Arave: Well, it could have been.
Newscaster: We’ve had a really tough time despite the public pressure that’s been mounting to even get a hold of them. They haven’t returned our calls, media calls, Have you gotten a chance…
Weiler:…yeah, in fact, I met with them two hours ago. I met with them back in June. I’ve toured their facility. I communicate with them regularly. They texted me within 15 minutes of this incident and told me what was going on.
Newscaster: Well, what are they saying?
Weiler: Well, they said that they had a problem. It got too hot and that they were shutting it down. It would take them all weekend to repair it. So, they’ve been very good about communicating with me, but I know that they don’t communicate with everyone. But I think they communicate with me, and they communicate with the city.
Newscasters: I made numerous attempts to reach out to Stericycle for comment, but they have not yet gotten back to me. Stericycle has not yet returned our comment. It’s kind of tough answering this type of question when our calls to Stericycle haven’t been returned yet.
Senator Weiler never ran his promised incinerator ban bill by the way – opting instead for a weaker piece of legislation that only prohibited the permitting of new medical waste incinerators within two miles of a residential community – a moot point since it would not affect a company operating before May 13, 2014 or Stericycle’s proposed Tooele move that had already been arranged behind closed doors in the multi-party talks. Consequently, Senate Bill 196 “Medical Waste Incineration” was passed, making him look like the good guy to air quality and the environment, when in essence the bill accomplished nothing.
Weiler: If you want me to run a bill, I’ll run it. I’m telling you right now, I don’t think it will pass, but I’ll run it. I’ll stick my neck out, I’ll do everything I can.
According to the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance, or GAIA, there were about 6200 medical waste incinerators burning junk directly into the air in America alone in 1988, but still, back in the days before we knew any better, all this just seemed like business as usual according to GAIA and the EPA. By 1996, that number had been reduced to 2373, and today, there are only 33 of these facilities left in operation over 17 states.
That might sound like great progress, but one of the problems with this is that incineration still offers the cheapest, sweep-it-under-the-rug option out there for generators, and this has led to much greater volumes of waste being dumped in the few remaining states and municipalities that are still willing to tolerate the technique.
So why is it that this massive nationwide reduction in med-waste incineration facilities has occurred? Well over the years, American’s, have grown their way up through the days of ridiculous nuclear bomb testing, lead gasoline, shiny yellow uranium paint and countless other asinine experiments, to a point where for the most part, we have realized that the direct burning and redistribution of lethal medical waste is a pretty bad idea.
But there are still those in the private sector, in tandem with their enabling political crony counterparts, who would prefer to continue perpetuating this cheap, haphazard, sweep-it-under-the-rug, huck-and-chuck by the wayside method of disposal – reaping the widest profit margins possible from the boundless tons of medical byproduct created in America every year.
With all of Stericycle’s shenanigans finally blowing up in it’s own face (pun intended) local State and Federal DOJ criminal investigations have been launched into the company. The board of directors at Stericycle is facing claims as of June 18, 2014 that it has breached its fiduciary duties to stockholders and violated federal securities laws. This coming on the heels of the price increases that inspires claims against the company made by the U.S. Government, 14 states and Washington, D.C.
Now we want to say before airing segments from this simply befuddling dialog that the opinions stated herein are those of the whistleblower himself and do not necessarily represent the views of EnviroNews Utah, EnviroNews USA nor any of its affiliates. Additionally, in multiple instances, EnviroNews was neither able to prove or disprove his claims.
With that being noted, it should also be stated that our encounter with the man has been a genuine and organic one, and by both our own accounts and those of others around him, no details have wavered in his tales from the time when he worked for the company and despised the Stericycle activists, all the way through to his current view on the company. So, here we go into our first topic of discussion:
Without being prompted or questioned in anyway, the whistleblower seemed to have something red hot on his chest – something that he wanted to get out into the open straight away.
Within a few minutes of commencing this unprecedented interview, the man made an allegation – an accusation that, if true, would almost certainly land Stericycle in a position of being in violation of Utah State, Federal, and even International Law – Take a listen:
Emerson Urry: Okay, we’re here on EnviroNews Utah this evening with an ex-employee of the Stericycle medical waste incineration facility in North Salt Lake City, UT. And I want to say think you to you for joining us.
Ex-employee: You’re welcome.
Urry: What can you tell us about your employment there? What was your position or your tasks that you took care of?
Ex-employee: My position started as unloading the trucks. – And that lasted for about a week, and then I went to actually loading the belt that goes into the incinerator to burn everything. And the way they had us do it, we’d get… like BT-01’s are some of the cases they had, and they’d have us throw three or four on a scale, and just scan one of them. And each thing has a tag where who generated the… what hospital it came from, where it came from; each box had its own tag.
Urry: You said that they’d only have you scan one of them?
Ex-employee: They’d only have us scan one bar code for three containers.
Urry: And what was the reasoning behind that?
Ex-employee: Some were radioactive like the chemotherapy type stuff, and so we’d put that on the scale, but we’d scan the one that’s not radioactive – not the chemo. So, they’d burn it and everyone knows it’s kind of dangerous to burn that kind of stuff.
Urry: And so what kind of radiation detecting equipment do they have over there?
Ex-employee: I can’t remember just the name of the thing they had, but it’s actually to detect radiation. But, it worked when it wanted to.
Urry: What does that mean?
Ex-employee: If it actually detected it… it’s lucky if it was actually working right. All their equipment is pretty much ran down there. They like to Mickey Mouse things together to try to save money from actually putting repairs on everything — Like when they opened the bypass valve the other day… (I) think it was February when they did it. It probably was something they did wrong; something was malfunctioning and then instead of trying to fix it right, they just opened that one instead. Like, they do a lot of half-assed stuff.
Urry: So when these bags come in and they’re off-loaded are they scanning every single bag to test it for radioactive materials or?
Ex-employee: No. No.
Urry: Just a small fraction or do they just hand select some?
Ex-employee: I can’t remember what the exact tool’s name is that they use to detect radioactivity, but…
Urry: The Geiger Counter?
Ex-employee: That’s it. There’s a scale tight here that we put everything on to get the weights, and it goes across, and it’s supposed to work, but it worked only half the time.
Urry: So what happens if some radiation was detected in any of the bags? What would they do?
Ex-employee: Some of them they put on another truck so everything would look like they were doing everything right; but probably about half of it got put on the truck, the other half got burned.
Urry: So they would knowingly send radioactive bags right through the incinerator?
Ex-employee: Yes. Yes.
Urry: Was that being ordered by plant managers or how was that determined?
Ex-employee: By the supervisor.
Urry: By the supervisor? So there was literally someone…
Ex-employee: When I first started, I thought I was doing everything the right way cause I didn’t know; this was the first time I worked in an incinerator. So I was just doing my job. You know what I mean? — What I was getting paid to do.
Urry: So essentially a supervisor just kind of stands there and on a bag by bag basis…
Ex-employee: She wasn’t even in the plant after she told us what to do. So, she just trying to leave and go do her own thing.
Upon his own admission, our own Executive Editor was so absolutely flabbergasted by the radioactive revelations bestowed by the man, that Urry questioned him again regarding his accusations of Stericycle’s deliberate, burning of radioactive waste — which, as we mentioned, is illegal according to State, Federal, and even International law.
Ex-Employee: I started knowing which bags had what in it by the looks of them, and if I seen one that looked like that I’d just toss it. I didn’t want to look at them anymore. ‘Cause some of them we had to look to see if there was any way it could be chemo stuff. ‘Cause I’d try to do the chemo stuff. I’d try to throw (it) off to the side.
Urry: Is that because it’s going to be tested further, or because it could be radioactive?
Ex-employee: Because it could be radioactive and everything. They’re supposed to be put in certain containers, but they weren’t. And that could be either Stericycle switching them out, or it could be the hospitals not doing their job properly. So…
Urry: But you’ve definitely, you know, seen supervisors order the incineration of bags that were known and tested to be radioactive?
Urry: And was it known by employees of the facility that that is a direct violation of their Title V air pollution permit?
Ex-employee: At the time when I was working there, no, I didn’t know that part, but there had to be somebody that knew it. They didn’t tell me any of the parts of like what the violations could be or anything. They just basically told me, this is your job, do it. So…
Upon examination of Stericycle’s Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Title V air pollution permit, one will find that front-and-center; on page one is the blatant exclusion from their permit of radioactive materials.
On Sept. 7, 2013, in an EnviroNews Utah article, the point was made for the first time in the media that Stericycle, was inevitably burning radioactive elements on nearly a daily basis, because frankly, we all have at least a few radionuclides inside. That’s right, you and I, and virtually everyone on the planet for that matter; all have to varying degrees, deadly radioactive isotopes in our bodies. From huffing on and eating Chernobyl and Fukushima, to bomb testing fall out and nuclear experiments, to multiple other nuclear accidents including America’s massive Rocketdyne meltdown, we are all, at least slightly radioactive — a point that was hammered home by Dr. Brian Moench of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, one week after the release of the EnviroNews article, at a press conference on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Take a listen:
Moench: There’s a high likelihood that some of the human and animal tissues that are incinerated in this facility may also be releasing radioactive elements because all of us have radioactive elements in our bodies. Virtually anything that’s in our bodies is going to be emitted up Stericycle’s smokestack.
Radiation, being elemental in nature, cannot be destroyed by burning — only vaporized more finely and spread for hundreds, if not thousands of miles via the air. Once a radionuclide, always a radionuclide — until it decays of course — a process that for many isotopes such as uranium and plutonium take millions, if not billions of years.
Utah, in particular has its own name, “downwinders,” for people affected by the testing of nuclear bombs in Nevada — people that have suffered the effects of radiation poisoning and elevated cancer rates because of radioactive particles that did not respect state borders.
Now radiation rears its ugly head again in the form of medical waste disposal and the inability of Stericycle, and the places where it gets its waste from, to eliminate the radioactive materials from the burn process.
On August 15, 2013, after repeated pleas from community organizers Alicia Connell and Natasha Hinks Henderson, celebrity environmental activist and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich officially engaged herself and her investigative unit into the cause.
Executive Editor Emerson Urry also had the opportunity to sit down with Brockovich in Los Angeles before she came down to Utah to join protestors. Here’s a brief excerpt from that excellent interview:
Urry: So shifting gears and to segue a little bit from oil and gas pollution into the genre of medical waste. You’ve recently signed yourself onto an absolutely heated environmental issue we’ve been watching very closely; with the practically boundless oceans of environmental calamity that we are currently witnessing, just what inspired you, and what motivated you to jump on board with the opposition against Salt Lake City’s Stericycle medical waste incinerator?
Brockovich: Well, it kind of is a first with me when it comes to, you know, the medical waste because I mostly deal in groundwater pollution, but I also deal in air pollution, and this is just another company and another form of incinerating waste gone bad, that becomes air pollution that affects people. I think one of the first things that really kind of like shook me was watching just a home video that a community member took and got sent out and put on Facebook of this medical incinerator and the plume of smoke coming out, and just the incredibly close proximity to a neighborhood and to elementary schools, and it disturbed me reading articles about… I don’t know what we always really think about what goes into a medical, you know, incinerator and the hazard, the biohazards that are being burned, the creation of furans and dioxins and what that’s doing to children and children, who are now complaining of asthma, and… There was an article that really disturbed me about the burning in medical waste facilities of aborted fetuses and doing that on top of children in a school. It almost sickened me, and these women and their outcry and their desire to be a voice to be heard, I just felt very compelled as a mother, as a human being and to be really kind of disturbed by the process to do what I could to get involved to maybe help raise their voice, and it didn’t take much because they were really already there.
Moench at Rally: I’d like to introduce to you the team that is working on Stericycle: Alicia Connell, Natasha Hinks, Communities for Clean Air and they have brought with them some of the legal team from Erin Brockovich.
Connell: May 28, 2013, we found out what Stericycle is really doing and we’re not okay with it. We want their incinerator shut down. We want to protect our children. There are dioxins and mercury and lead and several other toxins coming out of that stack.
Hinks: Which is pumped 24 hours a day in our neighborhood.
Connell: We don’t want to give our problem to Tooele. We want the incinerator shut down.
Bob Bowcock: They cheat on their permit, and they steal your air. If the state of Utah can sell your air by the pound and they exceed their permit, that is thievery. They are stealing. They are corporate polluters that are now criminals, and I’d like your Attorney General to prosecute them as such. Thank you very much, and lease continue to help these women fight.
That clip featured Bob Bowcock of Team Erin Brockovich at the largest air-pollution specific protest known to us in U.S. History.
Fudging on the Weights
The majority of the uproar about Stericycle came about just before, and surrounding last year’s town-hall when it was revealed that the company had been emitting approximately 400% more dioxin than their yearly permit allows.
Stericycle has since been accused of “cooking the books” in an effort to “cheat” on compliance tests for dioxin – something that the Department of Justice continues to explore. Here’s Urry again with Erin Brockovich – someone legendary for busting big polluters.
Urry: There was recently a bombshell document that was uncovered where an email between two Department of Air Quality employees made reference of some Stericycle higher-ups pressuring plant managers to push the incinerator to greater and greater limits despite better judgment, and the document also alluded to the notion that Stericycle had someone that they were flying around to these various locations who was assigned to, you know, optimize stack performance before compliance tests in an effort to skew the results essentially in their favor, and recently, state and federal criminal investigations have also been launched against Stericycle. Now a member of your team, Bob Bowcock, was recently on the record at a rally down in Salt Lake as saying, “The actions of this company are absolutely criminal and before this is over, we’re going to see some people go to jail for this.” Who do you think could be held criminally liable in this case? Is it executives of the company, board members, or, you know, have you ever seen people actually go to jail in a case like this? I mean, one of our slogans is “why no time for environmental crime?”
Brockovich: Right, and I think that that could be a changing tide that people want to see, and that is criminal time for that crime and that should be a very strong message to many CEOs and it may be one way. You know, you’ll never be able to get them to stop with some law suit and settling it for $500 million because they pay it and they just keep right on going on doing business, but it’s a game-changer to that CEO when it’s his life and his butt on the line, and you say goodbye to your children and you spend some time in jail, and yes, we have seen that, I mean, go back and watch Enron and watch what happened with that debacle. I mean, CEOs in the ’90s went to jail over Exide Technologies, and so we are seeing that, and I am sure that Bob would be referring to CEOs when you run a company that big, you have a duty; you have an obligation to know how your company’s running and to know if somebody’s fudging and fibbing on tests and that you’re poisoning people. Geez, you can’t sit there and say you didn’t know. I don’t care if you didn’t know. You should’ve known, and if you didn’t, then you shouldn’t be running a $10 billion company, and so if I’m a CEO and I see some information like that, you can just bet your butt business is going to stop until this issue is resolved, and we make certain we haven’t harmed anybody.
Urry: Isn’t the system inherently a little bit broken there though because, I mean, even as we look at the SEC, I mean, these companies are literally, mandated to have their primary modus operandi to be for the bottom line, and that prime responsibility is to the shareholders, so it’s like literally their duty to cut corners, to cut safety precautions, to go faster, at any and all costs to bolster the bottom line for their shareholders, I mean so, you know, how do you address that issue?
Brockovich: Well, that’s the way it’s been. That’s been the corporate mentality. That’s that veil that we’re going to have to breech, and I think it will be the public sector that gets them to do that. When we start getting into these type of issues — a DOJ investigation, what the CEO knew, whistleblowers, and they do come forward, documentation, and saying paying a fine just isn’t going to be enough. This is the way corporations have worked for many, many years, and it worked for many, many years, but it’s 2013, and it’s not working now.
“Cheating”, “fudging”, or “cooking the books” are all concepts that Stericycle is apparently all too familiar with, as our research revealed several other instances where Stericycle has been busted in foul acts of deception.
For example, in January of 2013 Stericycle settled for $2.4 million dollars in a whistleblower case in New York State where it came to light that the company had been inflating government waste contracts, deliberately ripping off the good and hard-working taxpayers of New York, while falsely puffing up public waste contracts in such places as schools, hospitals, police, and fire departments.
Utah’s own whistleblower shed some light in an area that could reveal why Stericycle was in such egregious violation on their already deadly, yet state-allowed dioxin emissions all along, and here’s what he had to say on the company’s “fudging and fibbing”:
Ex-employee: What are those machines called that measure earthquakes?
EnviroNews Cameraman: Seismograph.
Ex-employee: Yeah, it’s almost like that but it spins in a wheel on the side of the belt, and it basically records everything we’re putting in there. And they’d go up there and they’d put like a rubber band around this pin and everything, and they’d pull it back so that it would just be spinning, (but) it wouldn’t be recording. And then after they’d go back, like, you know, after it’s been spinning just for a while without recording anything…
Urry: Okay, now what is it that that machine records again? The weight of the objects?
Ex-employee: It records all the weight that we’re putting in.
Urry: And so the supervisors would actually do that themselves…
Urry: …or would they have somebody else do it?
Ex-employee: The supervisor, but I never messed with it; you have to have a key to unlock it. So… The only other way that everything is recorded is by receipts that would print off the computer.
Urry: Do the procedures or the way they go about conducting their business — does that change at all after 5 p.m. or in the late night hours? Did you notice any difference?
Ex-employee: I started off working the night shift, and the day shift is ran a little bit more stricter so if anyone comes in they can see if they are doing everything right, but the night shift we just pretty much… like our belt… what we’re supposed to be able to put in the hopper at one time is around 200 to 250 pounds at one time in the hopper and that’s… actually, the belt won’t go if you try to put more than that in there. We’d have to manually shut the hopper doors to get everything to start burning, and they’d always go up there and walk up the ladder and throw like five or six more just right into the hopper and burn them. So, they’re not even recorded at all.
Those are some pretty big allegations coming from the whistleblower – accusations that could certainly constitute acts of a criminal nature if more evidence were to accrue along these lines. Nevertheless, when we asked again about the outrageousness of these claims, the whistleblower stuck to his guns and said there would be no way for Stericycle to stay within the bounds of its permit if they declared everything, as the sheer volume of waste was just too huge.
Urry: Let’s talk about the amount of material that they are actually putting through there. We know there is a set amount of emissions that they are allowed to have and that probably is connected to the amount of materially that they’re running through the incinerator.
Urry: So, I’m assuming they weigh these packages when they’re declared or how does that process work?
Ex-employee: Well, the way that it’s supposed to be done, like the way that state law told us we could do it is that each container we burn has to be weighed and scanned – each one separately – but we’d put like three, four, five, six of them on the scale at a time and scan one of them, and throw everything on the belt.
Urry: And that was because you were being ordered to do it that way by plant supervisors?
Urry: So only one in five or six bags was actually getting weighed?
Urry: Were there managers that… were they telling you to feed it through faster and faster at all expenses?
Ex-employee: Yes. They try to keep the warehouse less cluttered, ‘cause I mean, as fast as all the medical waste was coming, we couldn’t keep up with it. There’s no possible way one incinerator in Utah could keep up with everything.
Urry: Back to the amount of waste that’s actually coming through and what’s honestly being weighed and acknowledged that’s being burned in the incinerator — did you find that they were storing waste on site for longer than it’s supposed to be?
Urry: Because we understand that once the waste actually comes in, it’s only supposed to be on site for a certain amount of time. Is that correct?
Ex-employee: Yeah, I was told that the longest it could sit was 48 hours, and we’d have what they called a dry storage. I can’t remember what the boxes are called like the number of the boxes, but they were like these big, white, like probably around four by four – like four feet wide, four feet long and maybe two feet deep. And we empty the BT-01s in there and go shove them in the dry storage. That’s what they’d have us do with them. And there was trailers that were full, that would be out there for like a week.
Urry: And what was the purpose of…?
Ex-employee: Keepin’ it out of the warehouse and make it look nicer because legally someone can’t go up there and ask to break a seal on a trailer unless it’s DOT. So, they can’t just come in there and break the seal. You know what I mean?
Urry: Mmm hmm.
Ex-employee: So that’s how they’d kind of hide some of the stuff.
Aborted Fetus Fumes
Now to shift gears just a little to another savory Stericycle topic — On July 2, 2012 an article by Mother Jones DC Bureau Chief David Corn, stirred a controversy when he wrote that Mitt Romney had been affiliated with Stericycle via Bain Capital, and that meant, according to the article, that Mitt Romney was in essence participating in the burning of aborted fetuses – a loaded allegation considering Romney’s right-wing-based opinion on abortion.
You could say that that article got people thinking a little more about whether or not they were walking around the neighborhood breathing aborted fetus fumes.
On June 4, 2014, the Editorial Board of the Standard Examiner, one of Utah’s largest and longest standing newspapers had this to say:
“Frankly, Utah should seriously consider if it wants a Stericycle anywhere in its boundaries. Besides its miserable tenure in North Salt Lake, it’s possible that Stericycle has burned aborted fetuses. The company’s policy is to not accept fetuses, but it acknowledges that such compliance is up to a hospital. In other words, Stericycle won’t verify whether it has incinerated fetuses or fetal remains.”
Well, once again, here’s another rumor about what may or may not be going on behind closed doors at the old waste burner – a rumor that Utah’s Stericycle whistleblower meant to add some clarity to.
Ex-employee: Some of the bags that would come in there, like red biohazard bags, but they’d rip open and everything and there’d be arms, legs, feet. One ripped open and everything, like I seriously started crying when I seen that one ‘cause it was actually a bag full of fetuses.
Urry: You’ve seen fetuses come through the facility?
Urry: How common of an occurrence is that? I mean, is that something that you’ve seen a lot of, or just on that one occasion?
Ex-employee: I’ve seen that a lot. I started knowing which bags had what in it by the looks of them, and if I seen one that looked like that I’d just toss it. I didn’t want to look at them anymore.
Burning Heads — A violation?
The whistleblower accused Stericycle of another violation as well. You see, for the most part, Stericycle will put just about any human body part in the incinerator, but there are a few pieces of the anatomy that are not allowed in the incinerator. A rule that he said he has seen the company ignore.
Urry: In the same token, there’s not supposed to be any heads or torsos accepted at the facility, correct?
Ex-employee: No. There’s not supposed to be no heads and no torsos, no.
Urry: Have you ever seen heads or torsos?
Ex-employee: I’ve seen a head.
Urry: What can you tell us about that?
Ex-employee: That it came from here in Utah. On that one we actually tried to do the right thing and send it back to the generator, like the place that it came from, but they wouldn’t accept it so they just threw it in the incinerator.
Foxboro’s Fire-Breathing Dragon
The outdated waste plant has two stacks coming off the top of the building. The regular stack, although extremely short and certainly not state-of-the-art does have some scrubbing technology to filter the hazardous emissions, but in 2013 on the 6th of September, not long after the heated town-hall that boiled over the pot, a fun-filled PTA 5K run was taking place in the neighborhood of Foxboro in close proximity to the incinerator when carcinogenic and downright deadly inky black smoke began to billow from Stericycle’s short emergency bypass stack.
In the years and even months before last June’s pivotal town-hall and subsequent educational media firestorm, many unsuspecting citizens in the surrounding residential development went about their business quite clueless as to the deadly dangers of the regular black smoke events – but not this time.
Angry Father: Yeah, who knows how much mercury poisoning and dioxin is going into our environment right now? That is exactly what’s not supposed to happen. That’s why this place is not supposed to be here.
As the massive cloud of black smoke bombed the neighborhood and the PTA 5K, panicked mothers scampered around in a confused state in an effort to grab their young and run for cover. An angry father and resident kept himself in harm’s way to stand in the line of fire and film the bypass episode. Along with the black smoke, fire shot out the top of the jaws-open short stack, as the episode went on for many minutes hazing out the greater Wasatch airshed.
EnviroNews Utah broke the story of the unbelievable bypass episode, and the video went viral not only on the web but on local Utah television as well.
The horrendous bypass event resulted in a press conference on Utah’s Capitol Hill where Utah doctors and environmental groups demanded of the Governor, the immediate shut down of the outdated waste plant – a demand that so far has fallen on deaf ears.
There is also evidence demonstrating that an incinerator facility can emit several hundred percent more than its yearly allowance for dioxin in just one bypass or startup/shutdown event, although Stericycle and others have denied this is true. Nevertheless, these extraordinary events put children both born and unborn at risk of birth defects and cancer, while poisoning all life with a carcinogenic and mutagenic brew.
Dr. Tyler Yeats: When human and animal tissues are incinerated, they, um, there’s a real risk that they can be contaminated with what are called, um a highly infective protein called prions and that causes what is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, and if you were to get this, it causes a brain infection that’s always fatal. These proteins aren’t destroyed by the heat that incinerators make, and so if they are released, which is a real possibility, that would be a severe community health problem.
Urry: One of the physicians spoke to you incinerating prion contaminated bio-waste. Can you either deny or corroborate those allegations?
Hoboy: We do have a permit condition for prions. If we were to accept them, we would have to notify the state. It is actually one of the preferred methods for destruction of prions, and you know, autoclaving is not an acceptable method of destruction of prions. There are studies that show that prions are really never fully destroyed and remain in the environment, and so landfilling is typically another method that is recommended.
Dinha: I mean this has really been an emotional issue for residents that are living in the Foxboro area for quite some time now.
Arave: It has. You now, as the bypass issues,um, have come forward, there’s a lot of fear from our citizens, and we’re concerned about that and their concerned about it, and it’s brought attention, and it’s probably warranted.
Bombing an airshed with dioxin, furan, mercury, lead, deadly biologicals, radioactive isotopes and even invariably fatal and highly resilient mad-cow causing prions is only where it begins when you’re talking about Stericycle’s events, and these episodes are at times so horrendous that Emerson Urry, in an article on Sep. 7, 2013, equated Stericycle’s ominous bypass valve to the mouth of a fire-breathing dragon:
“The short bypass stack seems to act like the mouth of a deadly dragon these days, looming as citizens wait in fear and concern, wondering when the poisonous fire-breathing beast will spew its deadly flame down from its ominous lair onto the poor and unsuspecting townsfolk again.”
We recently came up with a new name for Stericycle’s blow-off valve at EnviroNews – “Puff the Toxic Dragon.” When we asked the evermore popular local singing group the Smog Lake City Singers what they thought of the concept here’s what they had to say:
Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
And belches in the morning mist never saying excuse me.
Love that rascal Puff
And brought him tax incentives and some other fancy stuff.
Where moms and dads could see
Their children choke in poison smoke all full of mercury.
Heartlessly ignoring what clean air law allows,
Those bastards make us madder than prion infected cows.
Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
And belches in the morning mist never saying “excuse me.”
Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
Spewing tons of nasty gas above Salt Lake City.
They finally asked a scientist
Who said “I’m sorry pal,
Your house has more dioxin than a place on Love Canal.”
Everybody knows that you shouldn’t burn this stuff,
but money’s all that matters to that nasty rascal Puff.
Oh, Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
And belches in the morning mist never saying “excuse me.”
Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
Spewing tons of nasty gas above Salt Lake City.
They shouted to the state house, “Oh please just shut it down!”
And, they said “No, but how’s about we move it out of town?”
“They sent him to Tooele.” But Puff said “Never fear.
I’ll make my poison over there; the wind will blow it here.”
Oh, Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
And belches in the morning mist never saying “excuse me.”
Puff the Toxic Dragon
Lives next to me
Spewing tons of nasty gas above Salt Lake City.
Spewing tons of nasty gas above Salt Lake City.
If a person stops to think about it, they might wonder what it looks like inside the old post-office-looking building while a black emergency bypass episode fills the Wasatch airshed. Well, it turns out that plant workers may be taking it in the caboose on this one worse than anyone. Take a listen:
Urry: We’ve actually heard stories of smoke billowing back into the facility.
Ex-employee: Yes. We called it “smoking the building out.”
Urry: Smoking the building out?
Urry: And that occurred while you were working there?
Ex-employee: Several times.
Urry: And so what happens under those circumstances? Is that a massive evacuation?
Ex-employee: No. They’d just tell us to keep working through it. They’d turn some fans on to try and get the stuff to come out, but…
Urry: What about protective gear? Are there masks? Is there any kinds of precautions that are being taken to protect workers?
Ex-employee: I never… I asked my supervisor at the time for a mask and everything, for like some kind of respirator and he told me that the only ones they would give us are the cheap paper ones they use for auto-body. So you know what I mean? Just like a fiber masks that’s it. You know what I mean?
Urry: They won’t even spend money on respirator masks?
Ex-employee: The only thing they spent money on for us is our uniforms to be cleaned each week. That’s it.
Urry: Did they do anything to make you aware of, you know, the different, quite frankly, deadly poisons that are being generated in that incinerator?
Ex-employee: Not really.
Urry: Are they saying “hey, there could be dioxin or radioactive elements in this smoke?”
Ex-employee: No. When I got hired on, they told us that they test our blood every three months. That’s it.
It turns out that exposure to “smokin’ the building out” isn’t the only egregious abuse of worker’s rights going on in the plant at all. If the encountering and burning of a human head didn’t sound horrid enough, take a listen to these occurrences in yet another day in the life of a Stericycle plant worker.
Ex-employee: Like I’ve seen them do all sorts of stuff there like… When everything’s burned, it’s supposed to be looked at to make sure everything’s burned all the way through, and if not, it’s supposed to be taken off the exit belt, and taken back to the other belt and burned again. But, they wouldn’t do that. They didn’t care. They’d just send it back to the landfill.
Urry: So you’re saying that things go through the incinerator: this is cadaver parts or this is animal parts, and they don’t turn into ash. They come out whole, or they come out still partially intact on the other side?
Ex-employee: Yeah. I’ve actually done it myself where I’d go over there and take a hammer and smash bones up and everything. (laughs) I’ve taken like… Like you can tell what they are when they come out too ‘cause… I’ve taken titanium hip replacements, knee replacements, just stuff like that. You know what I mean?
Urry: They had you smash up bones?
Ex-employee: Yeah. (laughs)
Urry: And what was the point of that?
Ex-employee: So when they go to the landfill, you can’t tell what they are.
Urry: So instead of just throw it back in the other pile and send it through the incinerator; they went to the lengths to actually have you go out there and you know…
Ex-employee: Smash ‘em in the dumpster. Yeah.
Urry: …smash them in the dumpster. This is just a daily occurrence at good ol’ Stericycle?
Ex-employee: Well the bones usually got burned pretty good the first time around, but that incinerator has problems. Sometimes, all the… ‘Cause after it’s lit, it only pretty much just runs off itself. You know what I mean? But, sometimes when it goes out, the pilot light won’t light it up like it’s supposed to. Like the thermostat on it itself to keep it at a certain temperature – yeah, it didn’t work.
Ex-employee: They’d have us, they call it “punching the boiler.” We’d shut the incinerator down and let it get down to about 250 degrees, and we’d crawl in there and clean it out. We’d have to punch the boiler and get sprayed with this nasty ass water.
Urry: Wow! You’ve actually been inside the incinerator?
Urry: Cleaning the incinerator?
Ex-employee: Chipping the glass out from all the vials. Yeah.
Urry: Did they give you any kind of protective gear when you were in there working on the incinerator?
Ex-employee: They gave us a jacket.
Urry: A Jacket!? (laughs)
Ex-employee: They gave us like this…(laughs)
Urry: Like it’s supposed to be the magic jacket of protection?
Ex-employee: It’s like a raincoat type thing. Almost like they’d have like a garden hose type thing spraying us to keep us cool a little bit. That was pretty much it. (laughs)
Urry: But no respirators? Nothing to…
Ex-employee: Just those cheap ones you can buy at Wal-Mart. You know what I mean? What are they called? Like almost like the felt masks.
In addition to being inevitably exposed to deadly and mutagenic radioactive gamma, beta and alpha emissions radiating from hot waste bags, the poor and for the most part unsuspecting workers at Stericycle are exposed to myriad other hazardous and potentially lethal conditions on a daily basis, leaving us to wonder, just where is OSHA here? – Will they ever come along and do anything about this horrendous work environment?
Urry: What more can you tell us about the management there, maneuvers they’ve made, actions that they’ve taken to push the incinerator to greater and greater capacity despite better judgment?
Ex-employee: Pretty much the way that some of the managers there thought of it (is) that if they weren’t there, they couldn’t get in trouble for it. So, they’d tell us what to do, then they’d leave. You know what I mean? So, if they’re not on the scene, they can’t get in trouble for what’s going on. Does that make sense to you?
Urry: Yes, except for the power of subpoena and things like that.
Urry: But what would they tell you to do?
Ex-employee: They’d go up there and point out… We have some in there like, they look like 55-gallon trashcans, but they’re full of body parts. Like I mean seriously like… the easiest way I can say it is like guts, like stomachs, livers, stuff like that. Stuff from the hospital and stuff from like the medical schools and everything like that. Like cadavers you know what I mean? And they’d go “we can’t just put it in there,” or they’d say something about “we can’t burn this yet but do it anyway” because some of the things they’d have to get special orders to burn, and they’d tell us to put it anyway just don’t scan it; just dump it over the top of the hopper. And, I honestly threw up a couple of times emptying those things. But…
When you walk into the building it’s the worst smell you could imagine in your life. It seriously stinks. They don’t keep anything cleaned. We even asked for… what’s it called? It’s not air freshener, it’s um, it’s like a sanitation thing that’s supposed to keep the… it’s the same stuff they use in hospitals to clean the ORs down with and everything so they keep the smell down and everything, and they wouldn’t even do it. They’d give us Lysol. No, it was Pine Sol, sorry. Pine Sol does not cover up the smell of rotting blood and everything. It doesn’t.
Urry: On that topic, we were speaking with our mutual friend beforehand, and she was mentioning something about, you know, you got blood all over your shoes or something like that. What can you tell us about that experience? Or, what happened there?
Ex-employee: I’d walk up the belt and everything and actually step on like, you name it, brains, hearts, blood, everything. I’d have to climb up the belt to get a container unstuck or something. I’m serious, I probably came home with probably like at least 500 different people’s DNA on my boots. (laughs)
Urry: Wow! And no precautions at all to have any of those, you know, biologicals or potential disease agents…?
Ex-employee: No. Like I’d still go up there. I’d do the best I could to keep my boots clean at work. After I got off work I’d spray them down with like rubbing alcohol and stuff like that, but that’s the best I could do there.
Ex-employee: There’d be people playing around with like limbs and stuff there.
Urry: Just like, you know, playing football with somebody’s hand, throwing it around the facility. Or what?
Ex-employee: I’ve seen people like kick stuff across the floor and everything, making jokes about it.
Urry: It sounds like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, man.
Ex-employee: Kind of. (laughs)
Nighttime Narcotics Burns
It turns out that it’s not only diseased cadavers, dioxin causing plastics, radioactive elements and massive amounts of heavy metals that go through the incinerator. Oh no, there is much, much more, and we could go on for a good stretch just about that.
In an article on March 3, 2014, Brian Maffly of the Salt Lake Tribune came out with a piece that showcased the incredible amount of waste going to Stericycle via the international airline business and the City of Salt Lake itself.
In the article, the Salt Lake Police Department claimed that they do not send drugs and narcotics to Stericycle rather, to Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District’s incinerator in Layton.
However, in our interview with the masked man, he said that Stericycle does indeed pump narcotics through the incinerator.
Urry: Didn’t you say there were some burns there that had to be watched or supervised?
Ex-employee: Yeah, they had watches from like the police department and everything like that for like narcotics.
Urry: They’re burning narcotics in there?
Urry: In the incinerator? In the neighborhood?
Urry: Like what for example?
Ex-employee: Like heroine, cocaine, marijuana.
Urry: So not only is the neighborhood getting, you know, dioxin and “grandma’s ashes” and you know animal waste, they’re also getting cocaine and heroine? That’s what you are telling me?
Urry: These burns were supervised, correct?
Ex-employee: They’d drop them off and then the supervisor was supposed to stay there with us while we were doing it, and then they’d walk off. They’d just tell us what to do and they’d walk off.
Brockovich’s Dioxin Tests/Team Brockovich
Dioxin is a deadly chemical that is found sparsely in nature but created in copious amounts by industry. Medical waste incinerators like Stericycle are among the worst offenders, and measurements of dioxin levels in four homes in Foxboro conducted by Erin Brockovich’s team on Jan. 25, 2014 have shown levels that are catastrophically unsafe.
The EPA uses 4.2 units as its measure for safety in an industrial area. One home in Foxboro came in at 72.6 units. That is about 17 times the EPA recommendation for INDUSTRIAL AREAS in a place where people eat, sleep and live. Unfortunately so far, the Brockovich findings have been paid little mind by state and federal regulators.
Dioxin mimics the body’s hormones and invades cell walls, which enables dioxin to change DNA in unpredictable ways. This isn’t the good kind of mutation as depicted in Marvel comic books. Dioxin exposure can lead to reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and cause cancer. And because of dioxin’s chemical stability and fat solvency, its half-life in the body is between 7 and 11 years. This leads to bioaccumulation as people consume food sources that have been exposed to the deadly chemical over the course of time.
Commercial:Using the proven sterilization power of all-natural ozone, the OMW-1000 is setting new standards in environmental responsibility. Clean Waste Systems recognizes the need for a cleaner more cost effective solution to incineration, which dump tons of toxic dioxins into our atmosphere, and autoclaving, which is an energy and heat intensive, messy process that requires specialized operators. Here’s how it works:
Waste is carted directly to the loading area of the OMW-1000. The operator returns to the control panel, where a screen shows all systems and safety checks are ready to go. Then it’s a simple matter of pressing the start button. The waste is lifted and weighed. It is then raised to the top and emptied onto a high-power shredding mechanism specifically designed for medical waste applications, reducing the size of the material by up to 90 percent. A small amount of humidified ozone or Humidizone is injected into the sealed shredding chamber for odor control. After grinding, the waste, now located in the lower chamber is then automatically transferred and compacted into the treatment chamber. Through several injection points, scientifically placed throughout the sealed treatment container, Humidizone is injected to treat the waste in the container. The smaller, shredded size allows the Humidizone to permeate all the material for effective sterilization. Throughout the whole process, all Humidizone levels and systems are monitored and recorded to ensure proper sterilization and safety performance. After processing, the Humidizone is converted back into oxygen to be safely released into the air.
There are alternatives to incineration when it comes to eliminating medical waste. Blue Mountain Hospital in Blanding, Utah uses a SteriMed system that turns the medical waste into a sterile mass of confetti that can then be disposed of in a landfill.
Blue Mountain says that so far, it has saved about $30,000 a year with its in-house disposal, and the surrounding community has benefited as fewer trucks are required to haul the waste out of the hospital and to an incineration plant.
The EPA lists other treatments under the categories of thermal, steam sterilization, electropyrolysis and chemical-mechanical systems. These technologies all offer viable solutions to the dioxin producing incineration problem.
Dwight Morgan of SteriMed had this to say in an interview with EnviroNews Utah:
Reporter Shad Engkilterra: So Dwight, tell us a little bit about your process.
Morgan: SteriMed is an on-sight treatment technology. We utilize an EPA registered biodegradable disinfectant to chemically neutralize the infectious agents in medical waste. Simultaneously, we shred that waste into a physically destructed mass without the use of incineration. At the end of our process, which is 15 minutes, the waste looks like what you see in this Petri dish. It is shredded confetti-like material that we happen to call “ploof.” This then transported to an ordinary landfill, like ordinary trash, so in 15 minutes, we can convert the waste into benign, solid waste, where it’s destined to go into a landfill — no incineration, no dioxins, and no heavy pollutants.
When our correspondents first encountered the North Salt Lake Stericycle whistleblower, he still worked at the plant, and sufficed to say, he wasn’t too fond at that time of anybody against Stericycle, including media outlets that might be reporting against them.
But the man told us that after ceasing to work there, and after having become better educated on the environmental dangers of medical waste incineration to the community, he now holds a different view.
Urry: What’s your thought process about this move that’s going on out at Tooele?
Ex-employee: Honestly, I don’t think they should be out there but… Like before, I was like against all the stuff about Foxboro and stuff like that…
Urry: As far as the protests?
Ex-employee: Yeah. Like I was told that everyone that bought a house out there had to sign a paper saying they wouldn’t go against Stericycle because honestly, Stericycle’s been there, I know this is a fact, Stericycle’s been there a lot longer than that neighborhood’s been there.
Urry: That’s true. The question is: is should that even matter? You know, under the circumstances? There’s so many residential dwellings built up around it now, so many children…
Ex-employee: Oh yeah. I started reading a lot of stuff online and some of the stuff I’ve heard from other people that’s in that neighborhood… Like there’s like a lot of sick kids and everything through there, and everything. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was Stericycle causing it. ‘Cause you go everywhere else pretty much in Utah, and there could be sick kids, but it’s not anywhere near like what Foxboro is. So, I honestly think they should just be shut down completely.
This incredible interview can be seen in it’s entirety on our website at www.EnviroNews.TV
Stericycle’s proposal to move to Tooele, a mere 30 miles from the greater Wasatch airshed, offers little consolation to those who have been choking on its health-destroying fumes for years.
The position of most air quality activist in Utah, a.k.a., the Land of Zion, also notoriously known for having the worst air pollution in the United States, is that no form of medical waste incineration is acceptable in the state of Utah, and that all incineration needs to be banned immediately, while Stericycle still claims that they provide a “necessary service to the community.”
Hoboy: As far as the controversy, I can appreciate that folks that live near us have really had to deal with the controversy as much as we have had to deal with the controversy. We’ve lived next door to folks for the last 10 years fairly well, and we contribute to the community.
A no-incineration position like many Utahans want would also effect companies like Clean Harbors and possibly more.
So far, it would appear that the Tooele County Planning Commission is obediently coming along in all of this – predictable to say the least – as they have commenced the process of granting conditional use permits to Stericycle – permits that will allow them to get up and running on the new location.
But will the Governor’s office, and its own Department of Air Quality come along with the big Title V air pollution permit and other major stamps of approval? In our experience, the DAQ has rarely met an air pollution permit application that it didn’t like.
So, it remains to be seen whether Stericycle, a company with an absolutely atrocious track record in many arenas, will be granted a hall-pass to continue one of the deadliest and most haphazard waste disposal techniques known to man in the beautiful and pristine state of Utah.
For EnviroNews USA – Heather Murdock – North Salt Lake City, Utah.