Aborted B.C. fetuses sent to Oregon to power homes: Report
PORTLAND, Ore. - Commissioners in an Oregon county have temporarily stopped accepting boxed medical waste from British Columbia over fears they may have been burning fetal tissue at a plant that converts waste to energy, officials said.
Marion County said in a statement late on Wednesday that it had stopped taking the boxes in response to an article by the B.C. Catholic about the possibility the plant had accepted human tissue from outside sources. The commissioners were meeting in Salem on Thursday to discuss the issue.
"We are outraged and disgusted that this material could be included in medical waste received at the facility," Commissioner Janet Carlson said in the statement.
"We did not know this practice was occurring until today. We are taking immediate action and initiating discussions with Covanta Marion to make certain that this type of medical waste is not accepted in the future," she added.
Covanta Marion is located in Brooks, Ore., a small farming town about four miles north of Salem, and has been in operation since 1987, according to its website.
The facility processes 550 tons per day of municipal solid waste, which generates up to 13.1 megawatts of renewable energy sold to Portland General Electric - enough to power a city the size of Woodburn, Ore., with a population of about 24,200.
The company provides solid waste services to the county's 300,000 residents. Covanta Marion also processes about 250 tons per month of supplemental waste, including non-hazardous medical waste, according to the website.
Commissioner Sam Brentano said in a statement it would be a "travesty" if this revelation jeopardized the waste-to-energy program.
"We thought our ordinance excluded this type of material at the waste-to-energy facility," he said. We will take immediate action to ensure a process is developed to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries."
Covanta officials said Thursday they were unaware of the medical waste burning issue in Oregon and placed the onus on the Marion County facility.
"The medical waste program at the Marion County Resource Recovery Facility is County run and managed. Marion County contracts for and arranges the delivery of medical waste to the Marion County Resource Recovery Facility," the company said.
"Covanta looks to the County to ensure the waste stream they send to us is in keeping with approved protocols and regulations. Covanta is shocked by these allegations and is discontinuing the receipt of this waste stream."
Representatives for the B.C. Ministry of Health could not immediately be reached for comment.