(EnviroNews Utah) – North Salt Lake – In light of recent events, it would seem that it doesn’t matter at all to Stericycle medical waste incinerator just how much public pressure came down on them last year — nor does it apparently matter how much outrage and nationwide exposure coalesced over the past six months surrounding an emergency bypass episode, caught on camera at the plant — it would appear they just don’t get it, as another toxic black burp was captured on camera yesterday out in the surrounding Foxoboro community.
The above taped event, possibly prompted by a neighborhood power outage, comes on the tail end of a horrendous “RED AIR” streak in the Salt Lake Valley, which already has some of the most dangerous air in the country, often taking the top 5 spots for the worst air polluted cities in America.
With last year’s revelations and the subsequent opening of State and Federal DOJ criminal investigations into Stericycle’s conduct, it is hard to fathom why they don’t take extra precautions to keep a lid on their facility. As time goes by, it seems ever more evident that the old waste burner is unable to keep a handle on what is emitted from their ominous short emergency bypass stack, that now practically terrorizes the local Foxboro community with it’s lurking, dragon-like, fire-breathing presence.
This event commenced at about 2:45 p.m. while many children were walking home from school directly in front of the incinerator. It was captured on video by Becca Webb Hubrich who lives “about 100 feet” from Stericycle, and subsequently sent in through the EnviroNews Community Watch. This was her eyewitness account of the black, toxic, belch.
It happened at 2:45 pm as I was bringing my children home from school. As we were pulling up into our driveway, we saw the smoke, and I got out to film it. We first noticed it coming out of the large bypass stack with flames and black, sickening smoke. Shortly after, their smaller stack also started spewing out black smoke as well. Even after the bypass stack closed, the small stack pumped out black smoke for another several minutes. The entire event (between the two stacks) lasted for about 15 minutes.
When a similar event went down late last summer during a PTA 5K run it created a firestorm that resulted in international exposure of the video, as well as a passionate, attention-grabbing protest on Capitol Hill. EnviroNews Utah had broken the story originally, which received local and national media syndication.
Why so many ruffled feathers over a raw unfiltered medical waste release of this nature, when the five oil refineries in the area have big nasty billowing episodes all of the time? Part of the answer to that question involves the exorbitantly high amount of HAP’s or Hazardous Air Pollutants contained within medical waste. Also of concern is the ultra-fine nature of the emissions, which make them able to be inhaled more deeply into the lungs. However, what raises the highest level of concern is the extremely dangerous character of many of the substances that are released in an unfiltered and un-scrubbed medical waste bypass. As a matter of fact, medical waste incinerator bypasses can release some of the most deadly substances on the planet, and in simply perplexing volumes.
The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) and others have stated that a medical incinerator can surpass it’s entire yearly pollution permit allowances for deadly toxins like dioxin in just one event. What is worse yet is that if the episode is caused due to what is deemed by the Department of Air Quality (DAQ) as an “act of God” (like a power outage), the facility is often not even cited or levied a fine by the agency.
In addition to the simply massive, and again, DEADLY amount of dioxin released by Stericycle (and medical waste incineration in general), EnviroNews Utah and the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment have exposed that Stericycle is undoubtedly releasing highly resilient, and invariably fatal, brain-destroying prions into the environment — this, in addition to mutagenic and carcinogenic radioactive isotopes, which should theoretically constitute a direct violation of their Title V air pollution permit.
The pressure was indeed so intense on Stericycle last year to pick up shop and ‘get the hell outta Dodge’, that the company eventually relented, announcing through third party sources and politicians that they were indeed making plans to do just that, although the company has provided no further details of the whens and wheres of that plan.
With the cat now out of the bag in regards to the deadly nature of Stericycle’s bypass events, in the interim, one is left to wonder just how much longer the community will be satisfied with these reported intentions of relocation? — and how much longer they will put up with highly hazardous events like the one witnessed above? — and will greater acts of civil disobedience and protest be deployed out of necessity by environmental groups and community leaders?