BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE www.bredl.org
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
BREDL Action Alerts


*** ACTION ALERT ***
IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEARING

Public comment deadline was Oct. 15, 2010.


4 years is too long to wait for cleaner air!

New rules for medical waste incinerators in North Carolina

Stericycle has two medical waste incinerator units owned by Stericycle, Inc., located in Graham, NC, Alamance County
Stericycle has two medical waste incinerator units owned by Stericycle, Inc., located in Graham, NC, Alamance County

There will be an important public hearing held by the NC Environmental Management Commission (EMC) on September 7th at 7 p.m. at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Of most importance is our request that the EMC require the two medical waste incinerators in NC to comply with the new and more protective EPA rules by 2012 instead of 2014. Releasing these toxic air pollutants at the current unsafe levels for another 4 years is unacceptable!

HEARING LOCATION:

September 7, 2010 - 7 p.m.
University of North Carolina Greensboro Campus
Moore Humanities & Research Administration
Spring Garden Street, Bldg. 246, Rm. #1215
Greensboro, NC 27412

*Please come early to sign up to speak. Members of the public are encouraged to attend in person to show the level of public concern re: this issue. You will be given 3 minutes to speak. Please bring a copy of your comments to give to the hearing officer. There is free parking behind the Weatherspoon Art Museum (Cone Building), Bldg. 99, Spring Garden St., Greensboro.

YOUR COMMENTS COUNT! The public comment period is currently open and ends on October 15, 2010. If you cannot attend then please consider sending your written comments (by email or mail) no later than Oct. 15, 2010, to:

Joelle Burleson
Division of Air Quality
1641 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1641
Joelle.burleson@ncdenr.gov
(919) 733-1474

Additional links!

• To see a copy of the NC DENR Division of Air Quality amended rules for medical waste incinerators: http://daq.state.nc.us/rules/hearing/02D_1206.pdf

• To see a fact sheet, “8 Important Points to Consider in Your Comments” see: http://www.bredl.org/pdf2/TalkingPoints-medwaste_incinerators.pdf

• To read more about the Stericycle medical waste incinerator located in Graham, NC, see the Stericycle Awareness Campaign website at: http://www.bredl-medwaste.org/

• To read more about the BMWNC medical waste incinerator located in Matthews, NC, see the Citizens for a Healthy Environment (CHE) website at: http://chenc.org/bmwncairpollutants.html

The two medical waste incinerator facilities in NC are releasing several toxics, including dioxin, mercury, lead, nitrogen oxide and hydrogen chloride at levels above the new standards for air toxics deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Stericycle medical waste incinerators located in Graham, Alamance County, is currently releasing mercury 10.6 times the new EPA limits and lead 5.6 times the new EPA limits. Stericycle has two incinerator units, and burns medical waste from 22 states.

BMWNC medical waste incinerator, owned by Healthcare Waste Solutions, located in Matthews, Mecklenburg County, NC
BMWNC medical waste incinerator, owned by Healthcare Waste Solutions, located in Matthews, Mecklenburg County, NC

The BMWCNC medical waste incinerator located in Matthews, NC, is currently releasing dioxin/furans 12.6 times the new limits, mercury 3.4 times the new limits, hydrogen chloride 11.5 times the new limits, and nitrogen oxide 110% above the new limits. BMWNC incinerates medical waste from 12 states.

What if you can’t attend the hearing? You can still submit written comments, so please consider writing your own (see 8 Important Points To Consider in Your Comments) or send the following letter concerning the new rules for medical waste incinerators in NC. You may type additional comments into the letter if you wish or send the letter as is. We HIGHLY recommend that you add a comment or two of your own to personalize the letter since ‘form’ letters are often not counted. When you are finished just click on the link and your comment will be sent directly to the hearing officer. Thank you!




Sample Letter that was used:

Joelle Burleson
Division of Air Quality
1641 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1641
Joelle.burleson@ncdenr.gov

Dear Ms. Burleson and Members of the EMC:

I am writing to you to express my concerns about the state’s adoption of the new EPA rules for medical waste incinerators in NC.

Four years (2014) is too long for the Stericycle medical waste incinerator in Graham, NC, and the BMWNC medical waste incinerator in Matthews, NC to continue to release levels of mercury, lead, dioxins/furans, nitrogen oxide and hydrogen chloride into the air and environment at levels deemed unsafe by the EPA. Mercury and lead are particularly toxic to children and are contributing to the contamination of our state’s surface waters, the majority of which are already impaired. Long-term, low levels of exposure to dioxins and furans can cause breast and other types of cancers; impairment of the immune system, nervous system and endocrine system; birth defects; altered liver functions; reproductive disorders; lowered sperm counts; behavioral problems in children; heart disease; endometriosis; and increased incidence of diabetes.

In addition to my request for a requirement for both medical waste incinerators to come into compliance with the new EPA rules by 2012, I support a state prohibition on the incineration of plastics, metals, and paper products which should be recycled instead of burned. When these materials are incinerated they can result in the dangerous formation of dioxins.

Swift action needs to be taken by the state to eliminate the exemption for releases of uncontrolled toxic air pollutants from by-pass events which occur when air pollution equipment fails or in the case of a power outage. Instantaneous backup generation should be required by the state. Both Stericycle and BMWNC medical waste incinerators are located in residential areas, and both are located less than a block from community colleges (Alamance Community College, and Central Piedmont Community College, respectively) which operate day care centers for their faculty’s children. Other schools and daycare centers are also in close proximity.

These requests are the minimum steps necessary in protecting public health and the environment from the many risks associated with incineration of medical waste, especially when safer and more environmentally-friendly state-approved alternatives exist to dispose of regulated medical waste.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,