On eve of clean air rally, Stericycle announces intent to relocate medical incinerator

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SALT LAKE CITY -- After months of public pressure, a North Salt Lake medical waste facility announced its plans to move to Tooele County.

News of Stericycle leaving comes on the heels of what's anticipated to be the largest clean air rally in state history.

Thousands of Utahns are expected to show up to the State Capitol Saturday at noon with face masks on. Their message to lawmakers: Do something about the state's dirty air.

Dr. Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment said people are not pleased by lawmakers’ response to air quality issues. He and several others came to the FOX 13 News studio Friday to discuss the issue.

"The outrage in this community is palpable,” he said. “The state really has not seriously addressed the problem, they haven't offered any meaningful solutions.”

A group of local environmentalists are taking their fight for clean air to the steps of the State Capitol. Alicia Connell with Communities for Clean Air said they expect a large turnout.

"We have over 3,600 signed up on Facebook, but that doesn't include people who aren't on Facebook, so hopefully thousands,"  she said.

The protest could prove to be the largest in recent state history. Organizers said there's power in numbers, and they are hopeful the voices behind their message "clean air, no excuses" is heard by the Utah legislature.

Bryce Bird of The Division of Air Quality spoke to FOX 13 News on Tuesday about the state’s air quality.

"When we're looking at air quality, especially with compared to even other parts of the country, we compare favorable to the majority of the air," he said on Tuesday.

He said while Utah doesn't meet federal air quality standards, there's a plan in place to get the state on track, saying government agencies take it just as seriously as environmentalists and the public does.

"The fact is, we don't meet the federal standards, that's a concern for us, and we need to do everything we can to reduce those emissions and everyone is responsible,” he said.

Meantime in North Salt Lake, Foxboro residents argue their air quality is made worse by a medical waste incinerator.

"Our group, Communities for Clean Air, is trying to shut down an incinerator for Stericycle," Connell said.

The Illinois-based company announced late Friday that Stericycle is in the process of purchasing land west of the Stansbury Mountains. This comes after months of scrutiny, not only from the community, but accusations that the facility violated the DAQ's air standards: claims the company denies.

The fight to stop industries from polluting the air won't stop there. Dr. Brian Moench said people can expect a legal battle over Holly Oil Refinery's expansion plans in Woods Cross.

4 comments

  • Jessie Marie

    This is so very wrong! Stericycle was there way before the houses and the people who live in the houses. People are stupid for building or moving into their house around the corner from a company like Stericycle. None of them have the right to complain.

  • Lee Anne Walker

    Except that Stericycle’s pollution does not stay put. It is in the inversion area. And it is burning waste from 8 surrounding states that have banned it. Banned elsewhere, and on obsolete technology to put it in the air anywhere.

    The City/County issued building permits etc. You would think a subdivision would not have been allowed near a hazard.

    Utah’s people need to breathe. Our government policy needs to be aggressively pursing clean economic development like building Tier 1 Convention City status by building appropriate square footage of exhibit space. Not a little more space in a crony hotel. Let the hotels compete fairly to provide the bedrooms. And attract clean, out-of-state tourist money.

    Tearing stuff down and building it elsewhere is not progress. Unless in Stericycles’ case they also go for state-of-the art method and not burning into the air.

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