(EnviroNews Utah) – A handful of informed citizens in the Greater Salt Lake area had been waiting for this moment for years. That is, the opportunity to engage directly, in an open town hall format, with representatives from one of America’s well-guarded dirty little medical secrets.
Stericycle Inc., an Illinois-based company that specializes in setting up hazardous medical-waste disposal operations in OTHER people’s backyards, had sent two representatives to the town hall meeting in hopes of calming the escalating outrage. At issue was what was deemed by the local media a “cooking of the books,” resulting in a Notice of Violation and Order to Comply (NOV) issued to Stericycle on May 28 of this year.
Selin Hoboy, VP of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs (who lives in Colorado), told the packed house, “We do provide a very necessary service to the community, and so, um, ya know, it is our intent to stay and be a good neighbor in the community.” The crowd, including the nearly dozen doctors in attendance, did not agree. The citizens present learned that Stericycle creates a mere 50 jobs, causing members of the audience to exclaim that they would find a way to move those workers into other vocations.
A heated exchange ensued when Stericycle executives explained during the Q&A that they had to leave the meeting early. That was followed by Republican Senator Todd Weiler’s coming to the defense of the waste plant’s representatives, setting off an eruption from outraged citizens in the audience.
Cindy King of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club stood up and had this to say to Weiler: “I’ve tried for eight years working with Stericycle, and in the five times I’ve scheduled meetings with Stericycle, they’ve jumped out every meeting … This isn’t unusual for their behavior. They do it all the time.”
After they had listened to Hoboy, Dr. Brian Moench looked at the swath of concerned and even downright angry faces in the audience. He presented what he referred to as “undeniable” science regarding the plethora of diseases attributed to medical-waste incinerators. Moench, the most familiar face in Utah environmentalism, then delivered these words to applause: “It is long overdue that the incinerator portion of this facility be shut down.”