Clean air advocates rally after governor calls for investigation into Stericycle

Posted at 10:01 PM, Sep 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-26 00:01:42-04

NORTH SALT LAKE -- A medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake is now under criminal investigation. Governor Gary Herbert announced the probe against Stericycle Thursday afternoon.

Thursday evening there was a rally where residents demanded more be done to protect them from the plant.

Foxboro residents are applauding the Governor's efforts but also criticizing him at the same time, calling the criminal probe a small victory. Governor Herbert launched three separate investigations, but some said that's not enough.

"Minor victory, can I call it that? I appreciate the fact that he's finally looking like he's taking it seriously, but I feel like it's smoke and mirrors," said Alicia Connell, the Co-Founder of Communities for Clean Air.

Foxboro residents feel like they've been staring at smoke for a long time now. Video of an emergency bypass burn off at Stericycle was released in May, but it wasn't until a man, said to be a former Stericycle employee and disguised to protect his identity, caught Governor Herbert's attention.

In an interview with ENVIRO News, the ex-employee claims the North Salt Lake company has been knowingly incinerating radioactive waste in violation of its operating permit and tampering with scales to alter the record of how much waste they were burning.

The Governor is now calling on the Attorney General's Office to criminally investigate. He's also asking the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Utah Labor Commission to begin probes.

"I think the Governor's actions are appropriate and all along he's been saying and I've been saying we just want Stericycle to be a good corporate neighbor, a good corporate citizen, and right now it appears maybe they haven't been and that's what they're going to try to find out," State Senator Todd Weiler said.

"It's about time,” said Richard Anderton, who lives in West Valley City and attended the protest. “I think he's way late. I think he should have done something much sooner. This has been going on for a long time.”

"I think it's absurd you're investigating the company for dishonest reporting and you're still here," said Foxboro resident Nalda Bishop.

Stericycle released a statement Thursday after the governor announced the investigations, saying in part they believe many of the allegations are "unfounded" and "inaccurate." Click here for more on the governor's announcement and for the complete statement from Stericycle.