Stericycle Inc. has agreed to pay a reduced fine and fund a water quality improvement project to settle violations of its wastewater discharge permit
From March to December 2017, the company exceeded its permitted limits nine times for the amount of solids it could discharge and also had one violation for excess mercury.
Elevated levels of solids in water can deplete dissolved oxygen which fish and other aquatic animals need to live. Excess mercury can cause death or disease to living organisms.
Stericycle processes and treats medical waste from hospitals and other medical service providers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The company sends its waste to the City of Morton Wastewater Treatment Plant in accordance with its permit. The excess solids caused the city’s treatment plant to exceed its own discharge limit for solids.
As a result, the Department of Ecology issued Stericycle in May 2018 a $72,000 penalty and an administrative order to repair and upgrade their facility.
Under the settlement, Stericycle will pay $52,000 and the money will be used by Morton to purchase water monitoring equipment. Stericycle is also required to continue with facility repairs and upgrades.
“The equipment will allow Morton to better monitor its wastewater and protect natural resources through pollution prevention,” said Rich Doenges, a manager in the Water Quality Program for the Department of Ecology. “We appreciate the company’s willingness to settle on this issue and their work to prevent future discharges that harm the environment.”
“Stericycle appreciates the opportunity to resolve this matter with a settlement that will both benefit the City of Morton and Stericycle facility operations in the future,” said Stericycle representative Jennifer Koenig.