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E-M:/ Gov. Vetoes Med Waste Bill

Enviro-Mich message from mqk@umd.umich.edu

       Wasted Opportunity:  Governor Vetoes Reform Medical Waste Bill
            Anna Holden, Chair, Health Care Without Harm Committee
                         Sierra Club, Mackinac Chapter

	Governor John Engler's veto of the reform medical waste bill passed by 
the legislature in December wastes Michigan's opportunity to be a leader in 
reforming practices in medical waste treatment and disposal.  Senate Bill 11, 
passed unanimously by both houses in 2002, contained several provisions that 
would have put Michigan on the map for improving regulation and treatment of 
medical waste at the state level.  First introduced by Senator Gary Peters four 
years ago, Senate Bill 11 included a moratorium on permits for new medical waste 
incinerators and expansion of existing incinerators.  It also mandated a study 
of the environmental impact of different methods of disinfecting medical waste 
and stricter standards for medical incinerator emissions.  The Senate voted 
unanimously to approve the bill April 2002 and the House passed it unanimously 
December 13th.  No other state has passed such a comprehensive bill addressing 
the issue of medical waste regulation.  Engler vetoed the bill in spite of 
support from Republican leadership such as Senator Ken Sikkema, Senate Majority 
Leader 2003, and Representative Ruth Johnson, Chair, House Land Use and 
Environment Committee. 

     Sierra Club played a major role in formulating and passing Senate Bill 11. 
A member, Senator Peters introduced the bill; the Southeast Michigan Group 
organized lobbying to promote it, and members throughout the state actively 
supported it.  Major health and environmental organizations endorsed SB 11 and 
worked for its passage. The only public opposition at recent hearings came from 
the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

     To date, Michigan has made great strides in eliminating incineration of 
medical waste.  All 157 hospital incinerators in the state have shut down since 
new federal regulations were implemented in the mid-1990s and there is only one 
commercial incinerator in the state still burning medical waste, Michigan Waste 
Services in Hamtramck.  

     Environmental goals for 2003 should include better regulation of medical 
waste disposal, promotion of alternative treatment of medical waste, and closing 
the one commercial medical waste incinerator left in Michigan. To work toward 
these goals, contact Anna Holden, 313-331-0932 and mqk@umd.umich.edu or Rob 
Cedar, Chair, Hamtramck Environmental Action Team, 313- 365-4722 and 


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