Strict air quality requirements for incinerators were adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) in Oregon on March 13, 1993. Companies that did not comply with these rules were required to shut down their incinerators by March 13, 1995.
The rules were specifically developed to respond to growing concern over possible health risks associated with emissions from the burning of chlorinated plastics, found predominantly in solid and medical waste which is classified as infectious waste. The rules apply to all sizes of solid and infectious waste incineration facilities operating in the state.
There are no infectious waste incinerators currently operating in Oregon. Approximately 50 Oregon hospitals had infectious waste incinerators and closed them down after the rules were adopted by the EQC March 2, 1990. Oregon's infectious waste is currently transported to be sterilized at various treatment facilities in Washington and Oregon. The municipal waste incinerator in Brooks, which also incinerates some infectious waste, is subject to the new rules.
The rules were developed to implement a law passed by the 1989 Oregon Legislature that requires pathological waste (which includes biopsy materials and all human tissue) be incinerated instead of being disposed of at a landfill
DEQ's rules set emission standards that significantly reduce emissions of fine particulate matter, acid gases and toxic air pollutants. The rules also require high-efficiency pollution control equipment and continuous air quality monitoring equipment for specified pollutants.
All existing crematory incinerators were given three years to upgrade their facilities to meet the new requirements. All existing solid and infectious waste incinerators were given five years to upgrade their facilities to meet the new requirements. Since March 1990, all permit applications for new incinerators have been required to meet these standards.
In addition to these rules, the EQC has also adopted federal regulations for Municipal Waste Combustors and Hospital/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators. All of these regulations are contained in Division 230 of Chapter 340 of the Oregon Administrative Rules.