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Stericycle secures permit for Nevada medical waste incinerator

Nevada's Storey County Planning Commission voted Aug. 18 to permit a medical waste incinerator at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center near Reno, according to The Nevada Independent.

Bannockburn, Illinois-based Stericycle, the company proposing the facility, plans to build the medical waste incinerator in an area of the industrial center zoned for heavy industrial use. At the commission meeting, The Nevada Independent reports executives stressed that the facility would be built with stringent air pollution controls, estimating that emissions would be low, comparable to about 10 diesel trucks driving down the highway.

However, the industrial center’s largest landowner, Sparks, Nevada-based Blockchains, remains concerned with Stericycle’s track record on environmental compliance issues. According to the company, the presence of the facility could adversely affect future development, including on three parcels adjacent to the Stericycle site.

County staff recommended that the three-member commission approve the facility.

Blockchains, a company that aims to build a cryptocurrency city at the industrial park, outlined its opposition to the facility in a seven-page brief it submitted to Storey County. In the brief, the company accuses Stericycle of not being transparent before the planning commission.

Dominic Culotta, an executive vice president and chief engineer for Stericycle, countered Blockchains' claims of wrongdoing at the meeting. Specifically, Culotta refuted claims regarding previous citations and infrastructure issues at the company.

The facility would occupy about five acres of a 20-acre parcel, Culotta said, to provide a buffer area.

“It was intentional to leave a sizable buffer zone … to minimize impact on wildlife as well as our neighbors,” he said, describing the incinerators as “small” compared to municipal solid waste facilities. “Our operations will be contained inside a 50,000-square-foot facility.”

Although the facility has been met with opposition from residents and nearby businesses, Storey County Commission Chair Marshall McBride and Storey County Commissioner Jay Carmona voted in favor of the permit.

“The reality is that we live in a world that generates waste that has to get brought down to the safest levels” Carmona said in comments before voting to grant Stericycle a permit.

“Unfortunately, in today’s society, we have to have a place that can get rid of that stuff,” he said. “While obviously we don’t want any more pollution, I think this is one of those necessary evils.”