PO BOX 44 ~ Saxapahaw, North Carolina 27340 ~ Phone (336) 525-2003 office ~ Email:

Citizens for a Healthy Environment (CHE)
P.O. Box 2268, Matthews NC 28106
704-545-4817 •


April 22, 2010

Catherine Mitchell, Citizens for a Healthy Environment (704) 545-4817
Sue Dayton, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (336) 525-2003

Mecklenburg County passes resolutions to request early implementation of new EPA rules by Oct. 6, 2012.

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners have given county residents a fitting Earth Day gift.

In an effort to help protect Matthews-area residents from exposure to toxic air emissions from the BMWNC medical waste incinerator, located on the border of Matthews and Stallings, commissioners unanimously approved two resolutions at their April 20 meeting, requesting early implementation of the new 2014 EPA guidelines on medical waste incinerator Title V permits in Mecklenburg County. The county wants to shave two years off the four years allowed under the new EPA rules for medical waste incinerators to come into compliance with the new rules.

The two resolutions direct Mecklenburg County Air Quality to request special permission from the Environmental Management Commission to adopt and implement the new EPA rules by December 2010 and require the BMWNC medical waste incinerator to be in compliance with new EPA no later than Oct. 6, 2012 - instead of 2014. The Mecklenburg County commissioners are also asking that the NC DENR Division of Air Quality follow their lead in requiring that all medical waste incinerators in NC comply with the new EPA rules no later than Oct. 6, 2012. The Commissioners further called for additional oversight of the permitting process and requested environmental and health impact studies to be undertaken.

This decision by Mecklenburg County now establishes a precedent that will impact the pending renewal of two Title V medical waste incinerator permits under review in Alamance County, and sends a strong message to the N.C. Environmental Management Commission and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that we will act to protect the air quality in Mecklenburg County.

Mecklenburg County Board Chair Jennifer Roberts introduced the two resolutions after hearing from a large number of area residents who both spoke publicly and wrote letters to Mecklenburg County Air Quality during a public hearing held in February concerning the permit renewal for the incinerator. In March, the nonprofit group Citizens for a Healthy Environment (CHE), a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, was formed by residents living near the incinerator in response to growing concerns about the escalating numbers of health problems which many attribute to the incinerator. Residents have complained for years about strong odors, fumes, smoke, falling ash and other problems. More recently, concerns have grown as residents began to notice high numbers of cancers and other illnesses in neighborhoods surrounding the facility.

The decision by Mecklenburg County establishes a precedent that may affect the pending renewal of a second Title V medical waste incinerator permit currently under review in Alamance County, and sends a strong message to the N.C. Environmental Management Commission and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that citizens are taking action to protect public health and the environment in Mecklenburg County.

Biomedical Waste of North Carolina, on Campus Ridge Road in Matthews, is owned by Healthcare Waste Solutions Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio. The incinerator burns waste from 12 states, and is currently releasing four air pollutants linked with cancer and other illnesses at rates far above the new EPA limits. The majority of medical waste can be safely disposed of using a state-approved alternative called autoclaving, which sterilizes the waste, which is then shredded and sent to a landfill. Healthcare Waste Solutions owns an autoclave in Gastonia.

Citizens for a Healthy Environment co-chair Catherine Mitchell says, “I applaud the County’s request for early implementation. This action represents the very best type of governance by this board – that of real concern for the health and safety of the people of this county, combined with proactive implementation of the tools at hand to begin to tackle this serious problem. It’s a very positive first step.”

Mitchell says that CHE will initiate a comprehensive “cancer count” for neighborhoods affected by the incinerator, including Stallings, Indian Trail and other Union County neighborhoods. The group is also looking into conducting its own EPA-approved tests that residents may perform in their own neighborhoods to check for air and soil contamination in the area.

A number of the recommendations submitted in 2009 by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense were incorporated into the new, more protective rules for medical waste incinerators.

For more information contact Catherine Mitchell at (704) 545-4817.