by Mike Parks
STALLINGS – The burning of amputated limbs, removed organs and other medical waste has resumed at a once-shuttered incinerator right across the county border in Matthews.
MNC Holdings resumed work Tuesday, March 27, at the incinerator at 3250 Campus Ridge Road. The company stopped work in May 2011 after MNC Holdings officials, who own the incinerator, complained that Matthews wasn’t allowing them to make the necessary changes to meet new, stricter air-quality guidelines. But burning resumed Tuesday, according to Mecklenburg County Air Quality Director Don Willard, and the county will start conducting unannounced visits to the site to make sure air-quality requirements are being met. One such visit was held Tuesday, and Willard said no violations were found.
The incinerator closed last year after MNC Holdings officials sued Matthews, saying town zoning laws made it impossible for the facility to upgrade enough to comply with new air-quality rules. Necessary upgrades to the incinerator were estimated at $2 million to $5 million at the time of the lawsuit. The town and company are still arguing over the proposed changes.
By restarting the incinerator, MNC Holdings assures the air-quality permit won’t be receded due to lack of use. The county can void a permit if a facility doesn’t operate for 18 consecutive month. Company CEO Joseph Mayernik indicated in a letter last year that MNC Holdings was considering selling the facility as one option, which would become a tougher task if the permit lapsed.
Rich Geisser, a consultant for MNC Holdings, said the incinerator will burn for at least a week leading up to a stack test. Geisser could not say how much longer the facility will operate after that.
The incinerator burns waste such as old medical records, used syringes, removed organs, amputated limbs, chemotherapy waste and biopsy tissue from doctors’ offices and hospitals. The company also destroys illegal drugs for law enforcement agencies. Some residents are concerned the burning process damages the local environment and could cause health concerns for those living close by, despite the facility passing air-quality tests.