Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saint John's Hospital Bloody Smoke Stack Redux

Does Saint John's Incinerator Poison East Side Neighborhood's Air?

Ten years ago there were nearly 7000 hospital waste incinerators poisoning communities throughout the nation. Due to tighter EPA standards less than one hundred still operate today.

Saint John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois continues to operate a medical waste incinerator in the heart of downtown Springfield. Most of the air pollution which Saint John's incinerator produces flows east across Springfield's east side neighborhoods. The east side of Springfield is made up of poorer less politically powerful neighborhoods.

Medical waste incinerators produce dioxins, and toxic heavy metals which have threatend the health of those who breathed air contaminated by these obsolete devices.

One can only wonder how long such an eyesore, and potential threat to public health would be tolerated if it were located just west of Panther Creek - Springfield's posh upper class subdivision where many of the doctors who work at Saint John's live.

How it is possible for any medical establishment to justify poisoning the very air people breath?
This incinerator is just one block east of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and Museum. It is an eyesore which needs to be demolished. It is time for Saint John's Hospital to stop polluting the air of east side and downtown Springfield residents!



Did Someone From Saint John's Post A Comment?

If so it was well written, and only took about a half hour to write from the time of the initial visit.


Anonymous said...

Dear Jerome Prophet - Your posting grossly exaggerates and sensationalizes a story that was in the press a couple of years ago.

Back then, Gov. Blagojevich made headlines after trying to force hospitals across Illinois to shut down their incinerators following media reports related to community concerns about a hospital ncinerator in Evanston. Since then, St. John's has been working with the State EPA and has received an extension to keep operating the incinerator. The reason for that is because (long before this issue became "media worthy") St. John's spent close to a million bucks installing a high tech scrubber on their incinertor. As a result, the level of pollution that comes from the stack amounts to less than a pack of cigarettes per day.

Keep in mind, that if the incinerator did not operate, St. John's would have to transport medical waste (ie tissue, etc. from surgeries) down 9th Street and through the east and north side of Springfield on the way to Clinton, IL, where it would be burned in an incinerator that doesn't even meet the stringent emission standards that St. John's volunatrily put on it's own stack. So, assuming the St. John's incinerator is shut down tomorrow, the waste is still burned but now medical waste that's a potential biohazard is trucked through our city streets.

Please do some homework before trying to scare the good people of Springfield.

JeromeProphet said...

What scares me, and what should concern the people of Springfield, including people like yourself who work for St. John's is that a place that should do no harm is polluting the air.

We all do it as we drive back, and forth to work, or indirectly when we flip a light switch, but this is different. St. John's has a higher responsibility to do no harm to the community it serves.

Are you implying that solid waste management from St. John's is prone to mismanagement? Do you see a day where blood, and body parts are flying off the back end of a blood covered waste disposal truck covering the streets of North East Springfield in gore?

Is that what you're realistically suggesting?

Nearly 7000 of these hospital waste incinerators have been shut down, so why is it going to be so difficult for St. John's to responsibly handle the same transition that other medical institutions have made?

Also are you saying that Springfield, Illinois shouldn't desire to breath cleaner air simply because a waste incinerator in Clinton, Illinois is polluting the air over Clinton?

If Clinton has a problem then that incinerator needs to be addressed too, but that should not deny the people of Springfield cleaner air.

As far as the state of the art scrubbers are concerned, I tend to suspect that there must be some kind of problem when I see red, and black grime condensing on the outside of the incinerator stack.

It not only looks horrible, but it seems to be a visual indication of the type, and level of particulate matter which is being released over downtown Springfield.

I appreciate your thoughtful, and informative comments, and I will keep an open mind as to my recommendation that the incinerator be closed.

I'll run some addition Google searches, and ask some people with greater knowledge than myself EPA, Sierra Club, etc. for help in interpreting the reddish grime at the top of your incinerator stack.

If I find I need to modify this post I will do so.

Sincerely, and Respectfully


Anonymous said...

The other hospitals had their incinerators shut down because they either didn't meet standards or didn't want to spend the kind of money that St. John's has spent to make their incinerator as clean as possible. Cleaner in fact than the incinerator that Gov. Blago's friend operates in Clinton. The Gov's insistence in shutting down hospital incinerators is all about money for his friends not environmental concerns.
Incinerating on-site actually reduces healthcare costs to the consumer.

JeromeProphet said...

Anonymous 11:30 PM,

If what you say is entirely true, then the Governor must have a great deal of influence in all fifty states.

The shutting down of medical waste incinerators took place all across the nation, not just Illinois.

Were all those incinerators shut down as a result of corruption?

It would seem more likely that the incinerators that remain in operation are fighting a losing battle against popular opposition from the public, and that political corruption is what has allowed those few operating to remain in operation despite widespread public opposition.

If we factor in the cost to the community of those coming down with cancer, or mental retardation due to the release of carcinogens, mutagens, and toxic heavy metals the actual cost of providing health care to the community while using thousands of incinerators might not look so rosy.

No, people generally don't want to breath air they suspect is contaminated by vaporized legs, blood, bones, IV needles, mercury thermometers, etc., and most would be willing to pay for incinerators to be moved out of their communities.

Politics aside, you won't find many friends for your advocacy - except, as stated before politicians not listening to the concerns of their constituency (i.e., corrupt politicians on the take from medical institutions, and a few remaining companies which manufacture, and supply incinerator parts).


Gary Gilliam said...

Anonymous stated that the only alternative is transportation. I have spent the last 18 years in the medical waste business. Fifteen as a owner of a medical waste hauling and processing company. I now am an investor in Ecolotec( We have a medical waste processor that is totally environmentally friendly. It is designed to process a hospitals medical waste on-site rather than haul or incinerate. I hope you will visit our web site and look at what St. Johns could be using verses incineration.

email jp






Wired News: Top Stories