Northwest medical waste treatment plant fined for pollution

CENTRALIA, Wash. (AP) — A company that treats medical waste from Washington, Oregon and Idaho has been fined for a series of improper releases of polluted wastewater.

The Chronicle newspaper of Centralia reports that Washington’s Department of Ecology fined Stericycle Inc. $72,000 for the pollution from its medical waste processing plant in the southwestern Washington city of Morton.

Officials said the violations occurred over a 10-month period in 2017. The wastewater dumps overwhelmed the municipal wastewater plant, which is connected to the Tilton River.

The fine was levied on Stericycle for failure to notify the city or the Department of Ecology within 24 hours of the violations — though plant workers did eventually bring the issue to the state’s attention. The company must also hire outside experts to assess its treatment system.

One of the violations caused the Morton wastewater plant to violate its own water quality permit, while another contained excessive amounts of mercury, a toxic heavy metal.