BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
PO BOX 44 ~
Saxapahaw, North Carolina 27340 ~ Phone
(336) 525-2003 office ~ Email:
Box 187 Bynum NC 27228 (919) 542-5790
May 25, 2010
CONTACT: Sue Dayton
League releases data showing unacceptable levels of toxic air pollutants from Stericycle medical waste incinerator
Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and the Haw
River Assembly held a press conference that revealed flaws in the
proposed permit renewal for the Stericycle medical waste
incinerator, located in Haw River, NC. The League asked the state
not to approve the draft permit for the Stericycle medical waste
Sue Dayton, Coordinator for the Leagues NC Healthy
Communities project, explained the flaws in the proposed permit
for Stericycle. In every case the EPAs new standards
for existing medical waste incinerators would be stricter than
the current emission limits for the nine major air pollutants in
the permit proposed by the state. Comparing the permit with
the new EPA guidelines, she showed that dioxins and furans
combined would be reduced 98% and mercury emissions would be
reduced 97%. Dayton continued, These new and more
protective limits will have huge implications on the health and
well-being of every resident and child living within close
proximity of the incinerator. We ask the state not to approve a
permit that allows emissions of air pollutants now deemed unsafe
by the EPA.
In October, 2009, the EPA promulgated new rules for medical waste
incinerators that set stricter standards for air pollutants.
However, medical waste incinerators have up to four years or by
2014 to comply with the new rules. A number of local governments,
including Orange County, Chatham County and the Town of Carrboro,
have adopted a resolution patterned after a Mecklenburg County
resolution, which asks the NC Environmental Management Commission
to require all medical waste incinerators in NC to comply with
the new EPA rules by 2012 instead of 2014.
Also today, a letter from Heather Bjork, an Alamance County
resident, was sent to CEO and President Mark Miller of
Stericycle, Inc., and Stericycles Board of Directors,
asking them to switch to autoclaving, a safer and more
environmentally-friendly method for disposing of medical waste.
Ninety-seven percent of medical waste does not need to be
incinerated, Bjork said. Stericycle has the
technology available today, an autoclave in Concord, NC, that is
currently operating at 33% of its capacity. If the majority of
waste currently being shipped to its Haw River incinerator were
to be rerouted to the autoclave in Concord, it would
significantly improve the quality of our air.
At the press conference, Bjorks children, nine-year-old
Kieran and six-year-old Kendra Bjork, presented an infringement
invoice to a huge, 10-ft. paper mache puppet head of CEO Mark
Miller in a business suit. The invoice asked Stericycle for
millions of dollars in restitution to be sent to the current
and future citizens of North Carolina for increased
illnesses and disease; impacts to surface waters, drinking water,
and farmlands; increased numbers of emergency room visits and
hospitalizations; lost worker productivity and loss of property
values, concerning the continued costs of air pollution from the
Stericycle incinerator on public health and the environment.
Environmental pollutants, like dioxins and mercury, are
more likely to negatively impact children's health than adults,
said Bjork. Multiple studies have shown that air
pollution more adversely impacts fetuses and children, and has
tremendous immediate and lasting effects on their health.
Environmental toxins exposure can also cause premature births,
low birth weight and/or infants to be born with certain birth
The press conference was held at A Storybook Farm Christian
School, 4772 Hwy. 54, in Graham, NC, a few miles from the
incinerator. A huge map with a bulls-eye showed at
least a dozen schools and twenty day care centers located within
a 2.5-mile radius distance from the incinerator in Alamance
The pollutants from the Stericycle stacks are ending up not
just in the air we breathe, but also in the Haw River, which is
adjacent to the incinerator, said Elaine Chiosso, Haw
Riverkeeper. The Haw River flows into Jordan Lake, a
drinking water source for over 300,000 Triangle residents, as
well as a popular and heavily used fishing and recreation area.
The toxic methylmercury can accumulate in the food chain,
including people eating fish from the Haw River and Jordan Lake.
Neurological damages are the main health risk, especially for
children. The Haw River Assembly does not believe Stericycle's
permit should be renewed with these harmful levels of toxins.
A public hearing was held at the Alamance Community College later
that day where members of the public spoke in support of clean
For more information contact Sue Dayton, NC Healthy Communities,
at: 336-525-2003 or email@example.com
or Elaine Chiosso, Executive Director, Haw River Assembly, at
(919) 542-5790 or firstname.lastname@example.org
comments on draft Title V permit for Stericycle
Reductions of emissions at Stericycle under the new EPA limits
Map showing potentially-affected towns and cities in counties located within a 5, 10 and 15-mile radius from the Stericycle medical waste incinerator, Haw River, NC. Map courtesy the Haw River Assembly.