USING THE POWER OF
MOMS TO CLEAN UP
UTAH'S DIRTY AIR

Categories

Archives

Links

Stericycle Medical Waste: Piling It Higher and Deeper

September 18th, 2014

Its a blue sky day in North Salt Lake today, but things are only getting dirtier and darker at Stericycle.

Excellent job, EnviroNews for scooping that powerful interview.

The Salt Lake Tribune ran an article today discussing the interview and allegations of a former Stericycle employee:

State regulators are investigating a medical waste incinerator after an anonymous former employee charged that it burned so much waste and such toxic materials in recent years that it violated state law.

Stericycle, which operates the North Salt Lake facility, also is looking into the claims after an online video appeared on the website EnviroNews, said Jennifer Koenig, vice president of corporate communications. But the company’s procedures forbid such violations, so it’s unlikely they occured, Koenig said Wednesday.

Residents of the Foxboro subdivision in North Salt Lake and other clean-air advocates hold signs expressing their feelings about Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator during a protest at the state Capitol in September. They wanted the incinerator to be shut down.

A new Utah Department of Health report examines the potential health impacts of the Stericycle medical-waste incinerator in North Salt Lake. While rates of some cancers are elevated in nearby residents, those patterns cannot be tied to any specific environmental exposure, the department said.

The primary incinerator at Stericycle can be seen above a piece of machinery used to sterilize biohazard containers. The medical-waste handler wants to move its controversial incinerator out of a North Salt Lake neighborhood and it has secured remote state land in western Tooele County for that purpose. Activists are denouncing the state’s role in the deal.

Communities for Clean Air staged a news conference Wednesday outside Gov. Gary Herbert’s Capitol Hill suite demanding the governor shut the plant down with an executive order.

No one brought the former employee’s claims to the Department of Environmental Quality to investigate and document, said spokeswoman Donna Kemp Spangler. But she said the department is looking into the allegations anyway.

In a videotaped interview, parts of which are included in a documentary titled “The Devil’s Work,” a man wearing a bandana and sunglasses over his face says he is a former worker at the medical incinerator and alleges that supervisors told him and other employees to forgo measuring the weight and radioactivity of much of the waste coming into the plant, especially types believed to be radioactive.

Not measuring the waste items would violate Stericycle’s state permits.

The company is required to log how much infectious waste it processes and cannot process radioactive waste, according to its permit, Koenig said. However, some materials it burns contain traces of radioactivity, and the facility uses machines to measure those levels.

The former worker claimed employees ignore those rules and a host of others. He declined to be named or interviewed, citing fears for his former co-workers still at Stericycle.

It’s the latest flashpoint for the much-debated incinerator. Advocates at the Capitol Wednesday spoke against the operation and said medical waste should be shredded and sent to the landfill, not burned.

To read the entire article click here.

The interview with the former Stericycle employee can be seen at EnviroNews

Poetry That Eats Air Pollution?

September 4th, 2014

Air pollution is now the biggest global environmental killer, the World Health Organization has confirmed. The seven million deaths it caused in 2012 exceeded the victims of cigarettes, and is more than double previous estimates.

In Utah, btw 1000 and 2000 people die prematurely every year due to the scourge of our dirty skies.

Click here to view some high-tech solutions that include smog-eating poetry. Is Utah ready to get creative?

Democracy Swallowed – Utah Style

July 14th, 2014

By Cherise Udell

The John Swallow case shows political corruption in Utah at its finest. In essence, Swallow, as Utah Attorney General, had a “for sale” sign on his office door. Unfortunately, what Swallow did was not unique. He got caught and thoroughly exposed.

The experience of citizen advocates lobbying for clean air this past legislative session revealed that many elected officials in Utah have also been seduced by big money and power. This was demonstrated to us with daily high-fives and chummy back-slapping between many state legislators and industry lobbyists. And that was in public view — who knows what was happening behind closed doors!

Actually, we do know. These industrial lobbyists were making every effort to undermine legislation that would impact big industry’s ability to pollute. These same lobbyists — many from the law firm Parsons, Behle & Latimer — also suggest and help write pollution-friendly legislation. Yes, these pro-pollution lobbyists get paid big bucks for big results (they have to, otherwise who would want to be pro-pollution?) — and the outcome is that our democracy is compromised and our lungs suffer.

In another example, we regularly contacted lawmakers and tried to arrange meetings. Occasionally, a lawmaker would come out in front of the chambers and listen for two or three minutes before dashing back inside. Meanwhile, we watched industry lobbyists being readily escorted to the private spaces hidden behind the Senate chambers.

We knew industrial lobbyists crawled on the hill like red ants raiding a picnic, but we were shocked to see that Rio Tinto/Kennecott, Utah’s biggest polluter, alone had fourteen registered lobbyists, while medical waste incinerator Stericycle had eight. A few of these lobbyists are what some would call mercenaries, in that they lobby for multiple big polluters.

It quickly became clear that the public is no match for this army of pro-pollution lobbyists stationed full-time on the Hill. After all, how many citizens can take six weeks off work to spend all day at the Capitol during a legislative session? How many citizens have the legal background to understand, let alone write, complex bills?

How many citizens can show up to testify at committee hearings with only 24-hour notice? How many nonprofits can afford to hire a hotshot lobbyist from Parsons, Behle, & Latimer, which brags on its website, “[we] not only assist clients in complying with the law, we help shape it.”

Unfortunately, the access these paid lobbyists enjoy matters tremendously. As Sen. Dabakis lamented during a committee hearing, “The system is rigged to not have clean air.” Consequently, mandatory rules are made voluntary, enforcement measures the public wants are removed, and the government entities designed to protect our health become industry puppets.

Citizens demanding clean air fight a good battle in an unfair war.

But remember, we do have truth, justice and what is morally right on our side. We can make our own army of determined citizens — no one is stopping us. At our January Clean Air No Excuses rally an army of more than 4,000 citizens was assembled. In the end, our democracy, when vigorously utilized, does ensure that justice prevails over injustice. The recent resignation of Swallow attests to this. So does the fact that despite the system being rigged against us, numerous clean air bills did pass.

So to the Utah citizens that exercised their democratic rights this past session, Utah Moms for Clean Air thanks you. For all of those who did not, but wanted to, we encourage you to get involved.

Finally, to all of the legislators who truly looked out for the public good in spite of temptation not to, we celebrate you as heroes in the good fight for what is right.

Cherise Udell is founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air.

Summer Is Ozone Season In Utah

June 30th, 2014

This past winter we all struggled with the dirty, dirty air. Too many days, the Utah Department of Air Quality flashed RED AIR day warnings to those paying attention — and if you are like me, you were paying attention. Spring brought us much needed relief with robin-egg blue skies and warmer temperatures. But now as the mercury continues to creep upward, signaling the return of summer, ozone is the uninvited guest that you would do best not to ignore.

Ozone is a poisonous gas, the result of a chemical reaction between sunlight, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide gases (NOx). It is characterized by three molecules of oxygen and is thus highly unstable, which is why it fortunately breaks down so easily indoors, in the absence of sunlight. (Particulate matter, the scourge of our bad winter air, does not break down easily and is thus harder to escape.)

VOCs + NOx + Sunlight = Ozone

But wait, you say, isn’t ozone a good thing? Are we not worried about depleted ozone in our atmosphere? Yes, ozone up high in the sky is good (it protects the earth’s surface from ultraviolet rays), but down low it is harmful to breathe.

Breathing air heavy with ozone burns the inside of your lungs. OUCH! It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that this is not a good thing, so consider really limiting your outdoor activities and staying inside to play instead when ozone creeps into the yellow and red zones. Ice skating, indoor rock climbing, indoor swimming pools & indoor bounce houses can still get your kids’ wiggles out, but also protect their young lungs.

The Utah Department of Air Quality provides daily alerts regarding air quality (or lack thereof), so that you can take proactive steps to protect yourself and your family.

To reduce your contributions to ozone today (or any day!) and other hot summer days when ozone levels peak, Utah Moms for Clean Air asks you to consider:

* Postpone lawn mowing — unless you use a hand-pushed or electric mower — until after dark. Remember to create ozone, you need sunlight – without sunlight, ozone dips to nearly zero.

* Postpone filling-up your gas tank until after dark.

* Do not use spray paint or other paints that off-gas (they all off-gas VOC’s unless they say VOC free). If you must use them, wait again until after dark.

* Leave your car at home. Tailpipe emissions are one of the biggest contributors to ozone pollution.

* Use natural cleaning products that do not contain VOCs such as Mrs. Myers or even just the classic basics such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon. For tips on using natural cleaners — and saving $$ — check-out: Care2.com or the Guide to Green Living.

* Add green leafy plants to your house which can further reduce VOCs and ozone indoors. Cactus and Tropicals in Salt Lake City co-hosted a class with Utah Moms for Clean Air on how to purify your indoor air with plants. They are happy to help with your plant selection.

We must all do our part to reduce our contributions to air pollution and ozone is no exception. Please spread the word and encourage your friends, family and elected officials to take a proactive role in protecting the Clean Air Act, which currently is under assault by America’s big polluters.

For more information about ozone check-out this great website: Air Pollution Solutions.

The EPA has a good overview of the health impacts of ground-level ozone.

Should Clean Air Trump Patriotic Fireworks & Tradition?

May 27th, 2014

On June 3rd, the SLC Council will discuss whether or not the city should continue to fund the two major firework displays in July due to growing concerns about air quality. You can contribute to this discussion by contacting your city council member and/or attending the June 3rd hearing at City Hall. See the Fox13 news clip for more info and do take the FoxNews poll – currently 78% of respondents think the city should continue funding the fireworks. What do you think?

Clean air advocates question if baby deaths in Vernal are linked to pollution

May 7th, 2014

VERNAL — The string of brief and poignant baby obituaries from the Vernal area in 2013 is causing clean air advocates to question if pollution from oil and gas production is helping to write their fate.

The Utah Department of Health has agreed to launch a study to determine if there is an inordinate number of adverse birth outcomes in the Vernal area — beyond what would be a typical rate for a population that size.

“We want to determine whether there is an issue or not,” said health department spokesman Tom Hudachko. “It is not designed to determine cause and effect.”

Hudachko said the study is expected to take about four months and will assess the number of low-birth weight babies, infant mortality such as still births and the incidences in which babies are small for their gestational age.

“Those are the outcomes we are going to take a look at,” he said. “Most of that data we can get through birth records and conduct an analysis to determine if there are outcomes occurring at a rate that would exceed what we would expect based on our statewide average.”

Dr. Brian Moench said his group went back through the records starting in 2010 and, in the past year, found that the numbers rose to 15 deaths in a year.

“It is concerning enough that it certainly needs to be addressed with earnestness, with objectivity and with some real serious intent to find out exactly what is going on,” he said.

Given the Uintah Basin’s serious wintertime ozone pollution problems linked to oil and gas activity and the rampant increase in industry production, Moench said, he believes there is a correlation between the air pollution levels and adverse birth outcomes.

Given the Uintah Basin’s serious wintertime ozone pollution problems linked to oil and gas activity and the rampant increase in industry production, Moench said, he believes there is a correlation between the air pollution levels and adverse birth outcomes.

“It does seem very likely to be related to the explosion of the oil and gas industry and all the pollution,” he said.

Moench said still births and perinatal mortality in Vernal was six times the national average in 2013, but Hudachko cautioned that a timeframe longer than 12 months should be weighed when making any conclusions.

“We don’t want to look at one year and assume there is a pattern,” he said.

Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=29797547#eoK2vV1A1pwChMLW.99

Utah Moms for Clean Air Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Uphold EPA’s Second-Hand Smog Rule

April 29th, 2014

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule – an overdue clean air safeguard that follows the “good neighbor” principle established in the Clean Air Act to cut pollution that travels across state borders of — ie., second-hand smog.

The American Lung Association (an intervener in the case – three cheers to them!) released the following statement today:

”Millions of Americans will breathe easier, thanks to the decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court that will finally curtail ‘second-hand smog’ – ozone smog and particle pollution blown across state borders far from their sources, threatening lives and health.

The Clean Air Act directs power plants to behave like ‘good neighbors,’ and clean up their pollution that blows into neighboring states. For too long that did not happen, and states struggled to protect their citizens from dirty air blown across their borders. Life-threatening ozone and particle pollution, created by emissions from these plants, traveled far from their sources harming public health. Thanks to this decision, that will finally change.

People who live downwind of these major polluters need this decision, because the ozone and particle pollution in their communities threatens their lives. When this rule was adopted in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the pollution from these power plants caused 34,000 premature deaths each year and triggered more than 400,000 asthma attacks, as well as sent 19,000 people to the hospital or emergency department and caused 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks. The people in these 28 states needed the EPA to enforce the law and protect them from pollution.”

Utah Moms for Clean Air urges state power companies to move forward with implementing this life-saving standard immediately. While this rule applies to 28 eastern states (ie., does not include Utah) we support the protection of children across America.

Congratulations EPA, American Lung Association and Supreme Court for doing your job to protect the people of America.

Utah Democracy and Clean Air Swallowed

March 22nd, 2014

By Cherise Udell
Printed in the Salt Lake Tribune

The John Swallow case showcases political corruption in Utah at its finest. In essence, Swallow, as Utah Attorney General, had a “For Sale” sign on his office door. Unfortunately, what Swallow did was not unique – it is only that he got caught and thoroughly exposed.

The experience of clean air citizen lobbyists at the legislature this past session revealed that many elected officials in Utah have also been seduced by big money and power. This was demonstrated to us with daily high-fives and chummy back-slapping between many state legislators and industry lobbyists. And that was in public view – who knows what was happening behind closed doors!

Actually, we do know. These industrial lobbyists were making every effort to undermine legislation that would impact big industry’s ability to pollute. These same lobbyists – many from the law firm Parsons Behle & Latimer – also suggest and help write pollution-friendly legislation. Yes, these pro-pollution lobbyists get paid big bucks for big results (they have to, otherwise who would want to be pro-pollution?) – and the outcome is that our democracy is compromised and our lungs suffer.

Yes, these pro-pollution lobbyists get paid big bucks for big results (they have to, otherwise who would want to be pro-pollution?) – and the outcome is that our democracy is compromised and our lungs suffer.

In another example, we regularly contacted lawmakers and tried to arrange face-to-face meetings. Occasionally, a lawmaker would come out in front of the chambers and listen for two or three minutes before dashing back inside. Meanwhile, we watched industry lobbyists being readily escorted to the private spaces hidden behind the Senate chambers.

We knew industrial lobbyists crawled on the hill like red ants raiding a picnic, but were shocked to see that Rio Tinto/Kennecott, Utah’s biggest polluter, alone had fourteen registered lobbyists while Medical Waste Incinerator Stericycle, had ten. Tesero had four – and this list of industrial lobbyists goes on. A few of these lobbyists are what some would call mercenaries in that they lobby for multiple big polluters.

It quickly became clear that this army of pro-pollution lobbyists stationed full-time on the Hill is no match for the public. After all, how many citizens can take six weeks off work to spend all day at the Capitol during a legislative session? How many citizens have the legal background to understand let alone write complex bills? How many citizens can show up to testify at committee hearings with only 24-hour notice? How many non-profits can afford to hire a hotshot lobbyist from Parsons Behle & Latimer, who brag on their website, “ [we] not only assist clients in complying with the law, we help shape it.”

Unfortunately, the access these paid lobbyists enjoy matters tremendously. As Sen. Dabakis lamented during a committee hearing, “The system is rigged to not have clean air.” Consequently, mandatory rules are made voluntary, enforcement measures the public wants are removed, and the government entities designed to protect our health become industry puppets.

Citizens demanding clean air truly fight a good battle in an unfair war.

But remember, we do have truth, justice and what is morally right on our side. We can make our own army of determined citizens – no one is stopping us. In the end, our democracy, when vigorously utilized, does ensure that justice prevails over injustice. The recent resignation of John Swallow attests to this. So does the fact that despite the system being rigged against us, numerous clean air bills did pass.

So, to the Utah citizens that exercised their democratic rights this past session, Utah Moms for Clean Air thanks you. For all of those who did not, but wanted to, we encourage you to get involved – your voice is truly needed.

Last, but not least, to all of the Senators and Representatives who truly looked out for the public good in spite of temptation not to, we celebrate you as heroes in the good fight for what is right.

Next Page » male depression ssri viagra libido? Viagra Buy snorting viagra health

 

 

 

Contact


Recent Posts

Meta