BMWNC must comply with stricter air quality rules by 2012
by Kara Lopp
Company officials at the controversial medical waste incinerator in Matthews say they’re carefully evaluating how they will comply with the new Oct. 6, 2012, deadline for better air quality.
The new deadline comes after a vote last week by the N.C. Environmental Commission and satisfies requests from Mecklenburg County, Matthews and Stallings commissioners that BMWNC Inc. comply with new federal guidelines well before the state-adopted deadline of July 1, 2013.
The incinerator, at 3250 Campus Ridge Road, opened in 1985 as the state’s first private medical waste incinerator and is one of only two in the state now. The other incinerator is Stericycle in Haw River.
BMWNC – owned by Cincinnati based Healthcare Waste Solutions – burns waste from doctors’ offices and hospitals, including Presbyterian Hospital Matthews, such as old medical records, used syringes, removed organs, amputated limbs, chemotherapy waste and biopsy tissue. The company also destroys illegal drugs for law enforcement agencies.
Previously, the company said it would have to spend $2 million on equipment to comply with the stricter standards. It was not certain this week what the new guidelines would mean for the company.
“We are currently reviewing the decision by the N.C. Environmental Commission to enforce an earlier deadline and how this new date affects our Matthews facility and business,” Don Nuss, director of environmental health and safety compliance, said. “As there are many factors at play, we are assessing what our next options can be.”
The new federal rules clamp down on medical waste incineration companies to provide more documentation and better control of emissions – with stricter penalties for violations. The rules will be coupled with Mecklenburg County’s own beefed-up guidelines in the new air quality permit renewed for the company last month. The company was most recently cited for nine air quality violations during three separate inspections from March 30 to April 16, 2010. Three of the violations involved potentially toxic smoke escaping the plant.
The environmental commission vote was good news for Mecklenburg County residents, said Catherine Mitchell, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Citizens for a Healthy Environment, the local chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.
“We are obviously very pleased and grateful,” the Mint Hill resident said. “Mecklenburg County commissioners and Mecklenburg County Air Quality deserve a big thank you. Not only did they take to time to hear what we had to say … but they really listened and they decided to take action on it. They even went the extra step to ask for the county to be treated separately than the state. I think that is something that speaks really well for our county.”