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Medical Waste Company Blasted Over Bid to Renew Permit

By Eddie Small | October 8, 2014 3:20pm
 Stericycle faced strong resistance from community members toward its permit renewal and modification at a meeting on Tuesday.
Stericycle faced strong resistance from community members toward its permit renewal and modification at a meeting on Tuesday.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

SOUTH BRONX — Residents and some local pols are trying to stop a medical waste company from renewing the permit for its Port Morris facility amid concerns ranging from asthma to spills.

City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo pledged Tuesday to try to put the brakes on Stericycle during a heated public meeting at Hostos Community College.

Stericycle is trying to renew its operating permit, issued by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, for its facility at 910 East 138th St., by Locust Avenue, which allows it to act as a waste transfer station.

The firm also hopes to change its current operating permit to allow for the transfer of materials that are defined as hazardous wastes, such as fixer and developer solutions that come from X-ray processing.

Bill Nolton, environmental health and safety manager at Stericycle, described this change as minor and said that it would not impact traffic patterns or air quality at the Bronx facility.

“The permit modification will not be noticeable to the surrounding business or residents,” he said.

Audience members peppered Nolton and the other Stericycle representatives with questions for almost two hours about issues ranging from a plan for flooding to dealing with spills to the impact the facility could have on the borough’s asthma rates.

Many of the company’s answers to these concerns left community members unsatisfied, including Arroyo, who accused Stericycle of misrepresenting its activities in the neighborhood.

"I personally will lobby all of my colleagues in elected office to write a joint letter asking the Department of Environmental Conservation not to renew or extend your permit," she said to applause from the audience.

Corrine Kohut, 40, who has lived in the community for 12 years, expressed strong concerns about the facility's potential effects on asthma and air quality.

"We're diligent," she said. "We're serious, and our intention is to stop the permit modification, to stop the permit renewal."

Stericycle has operated at its 138th Street location for more than 15 years and uses the facility to transfer and collect regulated medical waste.

The company, which has locations across the country, is currently under investigation by the Utah Attorney General's office, according to agency spokeswoman Missy Larsen, who said she could not provide more information about the probe.

According to a recent report, allegations were made that the company's Utah facility burned so much medical waste that it violated Utah state law.

Marty Rogers, who has lived in the community for 59 years, was against the business as a whole.

“Will you please stop operating the Stericycle plant on 138th Street? Will you please stop pursuing this modification?" he asked. "Will you turn in your permits and stop doing business on 138th and Locust? Stericycle, will you please just shut down there and leave?"

Stericycle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.