US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

Alaska Federal Court orders safety waste incineration to stop burning medical waste & pay US$75k penalty


Nancy and James Oliver, doing business as Safety Waste Incineration in Wasilla, Alaska, have received a federal court order to stop receiving, incinerating, or handling hospital, medical, and infectious waste after July 1, 2009.

This order is a permanent injunction issued by Judge John W. Sedwick of the federal District Court of Alaska in a case brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get Safety Waste to comply with the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act.

'This is an important decision for public health and the environment in Alaska,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA Acting Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Bringing Safety Waste into compliance will reduce human exposure to harmful air contaminants, such as hydrogen chloride, dioxins and heavy metals. The court’s order also levels the playing field for similar businesses and sends a message that companies who fail to comply with federal environmental laws will face serious consequences.”

Last year, the court ruled that the Olivers had been violating the Clean Air Act and the Federal Plan Requirements for Hospital/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators since October 2002. Then, this past March, the court held a five-day trial to determine the appropriate remedy for Safety Waste’s long-standing violations. In addition to granting the permanent injunction, the court imposed a penalty of $75,000.

The court found that Olivers’ violations were 'willful' and highlighted EPA’s numerous, sustained efforts to get Safety Waste into compliance before resorting to filing a court action. The court also stated:

“The Olivers have violated the Federal Plan Requirements for many years. They have continued to do so despite an EPA Notice of Noncompliance, an EPA Administrative Compliance Order, and this court’s ruling that they are in violation of the law. In their effort to continue operating, the Olivers made representations to EPA about their progress in installing air pollution control devices and other equipment as well as their shipment of medical waste to Fairbanks for disposal that were not true.”

Customer comments

  1. By Jim Oliver on

    Even though there still remained facts in dispute, the Judge granted EPA a summary judgment decision against the defendants. Rather than granting summary judgment, the Judge should have afforded the defendants a fact finding hearing. The defendants have suffered a real travesty of justice.