Stericycle reaches settlement with state; clean air advocates object

Posted at 9:46 PM, Dec 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-01 23:46:01-05

NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah -- Stericyle strikes a deal to pay more than $2 million to the state of Utah, to settle fines and move out of North Salt Lake, eventually.

While the settlement is for $2.3 million, Stericycle might not have to pay that amount, and clean air advocates are already crying foul.

Half of the fine will be waived if Stericyle moves its facility, which is the plan.

"Half of the settlement amount would be credited toward a process that is being taken to move the facility to a new area in Tooele County. Because of some federal rules that are in place, the new facility has to meet much more strict emissions standards than the current one does," said Bryce Bird, director of Utah Division of Air Quality.

Utah Moms for Clean Air calls the agreement unacceptable.

“$2.3 million for what I would argue are criminal acts on behalf of Stericyle is just a slap on the wrist and so reducing that fine is not doing any favors for the people of Utah,"  Cherise Udell, the Founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air told Fox 13.

Stericyle's saga started in December 2011 when the company was first slapped with emissions violations -- but it would be 13 more months before the notice was issued by the Utah Division of Air Quality.

Between then and now, several residents of a small community called Foxboro, tucked closely to the medical waste facility have been releasing videos of what they describe as black, thick toxic smoke.

The Illinois based waste processing company is accused of rigging a stack test so it seemed as though they were polluting less than they actually were but a new deal from the DEQ wipes the slate clean.

"Our position is that we want the medical incinerator to be shut down, the sooner the better. We are actually pushing on a full ban on medical incineration in Utah and that's where we need to move," Udell said.

Stericyle has three years to move from North Salt Lake to Tooele County. If they don't leave their operation will be shut down for good.