Stericyle wins approval of air, waste permits for moving its medical-waste incinerator to Tooele County

Stericycle’s embattled medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake is one step closer to moving to a larger, more rural facility in Tooele County.

Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality on Friday approved air and solid waste permits for the proposed Tooele County facility, allowing the company to dispose of human tissue and fluid, surgical tools, pharmaceuticals and other waste. The permits also set limits on the amount of pollution the incinerator may release at the Tooele site.

A company spokeswoman on Friday called the approval an exciting milestone, but added that Stericycle must still obtain other permits from Tooele County authorities before it may break ground on the new facility.

Stericycle is required to relocate from its North Salt Lake incinerator to the Tooele County site under a 2014 settlement with the state of Utah, which also required the company to pay a $1.16 million fine for violating the terms of a previous air quality permit. State officials cited the company for exceeding emissions limits and for its failure to report those violations to the state as part of mandatory emissions reporting.

The new permit will require the company to install technology to monitor incinerator emissions around the clock. Jennifer Koenig, Stericycle’s vice president of corporate communications, said the company has agreed to those terms and had already installed the emissions monitors at its North Salt Lake location.

The monitors are not typically required in air quality permits for industrial facilities as small as Stericycle’s incinerator, said Jon Black, an environmental engineer with the state Division of Air Quality. But with the monitors in place, he said, state regulators will know if Stericycle violates its permit in the future.

Koenig said approval of remaining permits needed for relocating the incinerator is expected to take several months at the least.

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