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Modoc County's medical waste incinerators to cease operations

Release Date: 2/28/2005
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO -- In response to orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Modoc County, Calif.'s two hospitals have agreed to shut down their medical waste incinerators in order to meet federal Clean Air Act standards and requirements.

Both hospitals -- Modoc Medical Center in Alturas and Surprise Valley Community Hospital in Cedarville -- have agreed to the EPA's order and will put in place an alternative medical waste disposal method.

The incinerators will cease operating by May 15.

"It is critical that medical waste incinerators meet all of the required emission standards to protect the public's health," said Deborah Jordan, the EPA's air division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Developing alternative medical waste disposal methods will further ensure clean air and proper disposal of medical waste for Modoc County residents."

EPA inspectors determined that the hospitals' incinerators were violating the Clean Air Act because the hospitals had failed to perform initial performance tests. The hospitals also failed to submit to the EPA the required waste management plan and necessary incinerator operating parameters and other required data for both incinerators.

All medical waste incinerators need to be permitted and have the necessary air pollution controls to meet all Clean Air Act standards. Medical waste can be a source of pollution from the pathological and biological waste, along with any chemicals produced during incineration from plastics and other medical waste materials.

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