Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2021

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Medical waste incinerator no longer coming to North Las Vegas

Stericycle To Build Facility in Apex

Steve Marcus

A 2016 photo shows land along U.S. 93 looking east toward Interstate 15. Stericycle, a medical waste company, has plans to construct a facility in the Apex Industrial Park. Land on the right of U.S. 93 is part of Apex.

A medical waste disposal company with a history of environmental violations is no longer moving forward with its proposed waste incinerator in North Las Vegas, the company confirmed. 

Illinois-based Stericycle had planned to build an incinerator at Apex Industrial Park, replacing a longtime facility north of Salt Lake City that is closing. The new North Las Vegas facility would have incinerated medical waste shipped in from throughout the West and stored the resulting ash on-site.

The company had requested a special permit from the North Las Vegas Planning Commission earlier this year, but withdrew its application on June 6, six days before the commission was scheduled to vote on it, said Marc Jordan, Land Development and Community Services director for the city.

The company decided to forgo its plans in North Las Vegas due to “broader business considerations and facility planning,” said Stericycle spokesperson Jennifer Koenig. A letter sent to the city announcing the company’s withdrawal of its application offered no further explanation.

Stericycle’s plans included a 44,000-square-foot incinerator and a 4,500-square-foot office building on a seven-acre parcel near Apex Sapphire Avenue and Grand Valley Parkway, according to city documents. Trash incinerated at the facility would have included bloodied and infectious items, human and animal tissue, confidential medical records, plastic items and non-hazardous pharmaceuticals. 

The Planning Commission and City Council initially approved a special-use permit for the incinerator in December 2016, with planning staff describing the proposal as “appropriate” for Apex. The permit expired in December 2018, prompting the company to submit a new application. 

Between 2016 and 2019, Stericycle worked with the city on site designs, utility commitments and other items, Stericycle director of engineering James Nold wrote in documents to the Planning Commission. But when the company resubmitted plans this year, it appeared that city officials were no longer keen on the proposal.  

Jordan’s report for the June 12 Planning Commission meeting recommended that the commission deny the application because of the company’s environmental history and the health risks associated with incineration. While Apex is designed for intense industrial activities, the environmental and public health risks associated with the project, especially for employees at the facility and at nearby Apex properties, were too great to ignore, Jordan wrote. 

Potential pollutants that could have been released as byproducts of incineration included carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, dioxins, furans, particulate matter and lead, according to Jordan. 

“Contaminants can be carried through the air and can affect soil, water and food sources, which in turn can impact people and the wildlife,” he wrote in his comments to the Planning Commission. 

Staff in the Land Development and Community Services Department were also concerned about the company’s history of environmental violations across the country. For example, in 2014, the Utah Division of Air Quality fined the company $2.3 million, the largest fine in the history of the division, for misreporting emissions from its North Salt Lake incinerator and violating emissions limits set by the federal Clean Air Act. Stericycle was forced to move out of North Salt Lake as part of a settlement it reached with the state, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“The applicant has demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with state and federal guidelines for this use,” Jordan wrote. 

Stericycle is committed to following all environmental regulations and worked to improve concerns at its former Utah facility, Koenig told the Sun in March. 

“Stericycle made significant investments in the facility to improve our emissions in the community, which resulted in a favorable outcome,” Koenig said.

The company does not plan to resubmit its request for a special use permit, said Sandy Lopez, North Las Vegas spokesperson.  

“I know that Marc (Jordan) and his team are still excited about searching for new opportunities for development and job creation,” Lopez said. “We do want to ensure that companies are reputable and are following the right guidelines.”