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Public Hearing on Med Waste Incinerators Tonight

A public hearing tonight in Greensboro will consider new rules for medical waste incinerators. Mecklenburg County is home to one of only two such facilities in the state. Lead, mercury, hydrogen chloride and sulfur dioxide are just a sampling of the toxins released into the air by medical waste incinerators. Considering the danger those chemicals pose to human health and the environment, the EPA has created stricter emissions rules set to take effect in 2014. But Mecklenburg County officials and environmental groups want the state to start enforcing the rules in 2012. Sue Dayton of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense league says the state's two medical waste incinerators - including one in Matthews - are currently releasing toxic pollution many times the limit set in the new EPA rules. The new EPA rules also close a key loophole in the emissions rules, says Dayton. When the air pollution equipment on a medical waste incinerate momentarily fails and releases uncontrolled emissions into the air, it's called a "bypass event." Under the new EPA rules, "bypass events" will no longer be exempt from emissions limits. "So that's another reason it's extremely important that we get these new rules in place by 2012," says Dayton. Residents who live near the BMWNC medical waste incinerator in Matthews have long complained of smoke and foul odors. Earlier this year BMWNC was cited for violating its air quality permit and efforts to renew that permit were put on hold. Mecklenburg County air quality officials say BMWNC has resolved the issues in that citation, but the permit renewal process has yet to be resumed. Tonight's public hearing in Greensboro will apply to both the BMWNC medical waste incinerator and another operated by a company called Stericycle in Alamance County. The meeting is at 7 p.m. on the campus of UNC Greensboro. Meeting details: 7 p.m. in Room 1215 of Moore Humanities & Research Administration Building 246 UNC Greensboro Free parking is available behind the Weatherstone Art Museum on Spring Garden Street. Written comments may also be postmarked or emailed by Oct. 15 and sent to: Joelle Burleson, NC Division of Air Quality 1641 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1641 Joelle.burleson@ncdenr.gov