Erin Brockovich joins Utahns to protest medical waste facility

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NORTH SALT LAKE – Environmental activist Erin Brockovich joined Utahns at a protest outside a medical waste facility in North Salt Lake Saturday.

Environmental groups and concerned residents have protested at Stericycle in the past, and activists have called on Gov. Gary Herbert to shut the operation down.

Those at Saturday’s protest said they want the incinerator to shut down or move, and they cited air quality concerns.

Brockovich said the protesters in Utah are creating a lot of awareness on the issue, and she said they are becoming empowered in the fight against an entity that shouldn’t be where it is.

“I do not think Stericycle should be operating, or burning bio hazardous waste, this close to a community, on top of children,” she said. "This is a bio hazardous facility. They’re literally burning biohazards on top of people, and too near their children, and they don’t want that to happen anymore.”

Brockovich also said local politicians should step in.

“They do have the power to tell them, ‘You are operating too close to a community, and we need you to move to a new location,’” she said.

In an interview with FOX 13 News on Friday, North Salt Lake mayor Len Arave weighed in on the controversial facility.

Brockovich also called on the company itself to voluntarily relocate.

“This company knows what they’ve done,” she said. “They know what the investigation is, and they can really do the right thing… move their facility away from communities and away from people. They can do that. And they’re choosing not to.”

Local mothers were a particular focus for the visiting activist. She said she was here to support them and cheer them on, as well as answer their legal questions. She said she and others have come to help with the fight and get Stericycle to move, even if they have a permit.

“You’re given a permit, but does it say on that permit, 'I’m allowed to poison you?’ No, it doesn’t,” she said.

Stericycle came under fire earlier for falsifying documents and emitting more pollution than their permit allowed. Bob Bowcock is an environmental investigator and part of the team that travels with Brockovich, and he said Stericycle hasn't been fair to residents.

“When somebody violates their permit by six times, not only is it criminal, but it’s causing physical harm to these people," he said.

FOX 13 News reached out to Stericycle for a comment, but calls were not returned. During FOX 13 News’ coverage of the issue Stericycle has only issued one reply, which came in response to a protest in July.

In July, Stericycle Company Sokeswoman Selin Hoboy said, “I understand the concerns within the community, and we are going to work with the regulators to make sure that we maintain compliance, and we’re committed to insuring that we’re being in compliance.”