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Panel advances bill targeting med-waste incinerators

Published February 21, 2014 12:42 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A proposed ban on building waste incinerators near homes cleared a Senate committee without opposition Friday.

SB196, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, targets the burning of certain types of medical waste, a practice that stirred controversy in his Davis County district last year after state regulators cracked down on a Stericyle plant for alleged emission violations.

When the facility was permitted in 1989, the location was surrounded by open fields zoned for industrial uses. But in recent years, North Salt Lake officials allowed the Foxboro subdivision to grow right up to the incinerator's fence. Still, SB196 wouldn't apply to the state's two existing incinerators that take medical waste.

"I'm going to trust our local zoning people to learn from this mistake. At the time the permit is issued there has to be no residences within two miles," Weiler explained to the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee.

A competing bill, SB64, went up in smoke last week because it was to have required Stericycle to close its North Sale Lake plant by year's end.

Weiler said his bill is more "surgical," targeting chemotherapy agents and body parts, tissues and other material deemed "infectious waste"— the kind of stuff Stericycle incinerates.

Stericycle has announced plans to move its operations across the Great Salt Lake to a Tooele County spot south of Rowley, where the nearest home is miles away. Weiler, who lives two miles from the North Salt Lake plant, cautioned the company to make good on its promises.

"If this is a bait and switch," he said, "I will be back with another bill."

bmaffly@sltrib.com