On Sept. 13, 2004, Gov. Blagojevich
called on the 11 Illinois hospitals that still burn trash and
medical waste on-site to voluntarily stop this practice. At that
time, only Florida had more hospital incinerators than Illinois.
The six other hospitals that agreed
to shut down their incinerators are Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers
Grove; Evanston Hospital, Evanston; Department of Veterans Affairs
Illiana Health Clinic, Danville; Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, Melrose
Park; Memorial Medical Center, Springfield; and Passavant Area
"The emissions from hospital
incinerators are known to contain dangerous toxins," the governor
said. "There are newer, safer ways to dispose of medical waste, so
there's absolutely no justification for continuing to threaten the
health of residents in nearby communities. I urge the four remaining
hospitals that have not committed to shutting down their
incinerators to reconsider their position. It is time to put an end
to on-site hospital incineration in Illinois."
"The governor and I are convinced
that shutting down hospital incinerators is the right thing to do --
right now -- so that Illinois can join the vast majority of other
states where this practice has been rendered obsolete," said
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Renee Cipriano.
Illinois EPA is negotiating with
Hinsdale Hospital to set a reasonable timetable for phaseout and
shutdown. As Cipriano outlined in her December 2004 letter to the
Illinois Hospital Association, Illinois EPA seeks a cooperative
approach and recognizes that there are some practical obstacles and
economic impacts associated with immediate shutdown for the four
remaining hospitals. They are Loyola University Medical Center,
Maywood; St. John's Hospital, Springfield; Memorial Hospital,
Belleville; and Good Samaritan Regional Health Center, Mount Vernon.
All four are located in urban areas.
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Over the past six months, Illinois
EPA has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Illinois
Hospital Association and the affected hospitals and has offered
technical assistance to help the hospitals reduce their waste and
find healthier disposal alternatives.
"While it is true that the four
remaining hospitals have invested in improved pollution-control
technology, emerging scientific data shows that even with tighter
controls, hospital incinerators remain a source of air toxins,
including dioxin, a known human carcinogen," Cipriano said.
Currently, there are approximately
100 hospital incinerators still in use nationwide, down from
approximately 2,400 in 2000. This dramatic reduction is largely due
to tighter federal limits on toxic air emissions and the wide
availability of cleaner, safer and cost-effective disposal
Since 2000, 99 hospital incinerators
across Illinois have shut down, resulting in a 97 percent decrease
in toxic air emissions. Those remaining have either upgraded or
retrofitted equipment to meet stricter standards.
[News release from the governor's