Currituck approves medical waste guidelines

Published 11:26 pm Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Currituck County Board of Commissioners at their February 3 regular session meeting approved a text amendment to allow storage and distribution of medical waste in the Heavy Industrial zoning district.

According to planning and community development director Laurie B. LoCicero, the county recently became aware of medical waste activities on the Spruill Sand Mine property at 913 Caratoke Highway in Moyock when a complaint was received that medical waste was being stored on the property.

Because the county’s current Unified Development Ordinance does not address medical waste, bulk waste, medical transfer stations, commercial waste, garbage or demolition waste, the options available include halting such operations there or presenting a text amendment to define medical waste along with where and how it can be stored.

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Edward McCollum, district manager for Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services explained that the Moyock site developed after an emergency situation in March 2017 when a boiler exploded at its processing center in Pertersburg, Va.

When questioned about the process, McCollum said while the idea of medical waste in and of itself is scary, 95 percent of the materials involved are gowns and gloves collected from doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals across North Carolina from Manteo to Ahoskie and southeast Virgina, with the bulk of materials coming from Virginia. Waste materials collected are transferred from a truck to a trailer and then hauled to a processing and disposal center in Petersburg, Va. Even though there is no processing, handling or sorting at the Moyock site, his workers use Sharps level nine puncture-resistant gloves.

McCollum went on to say that although North Carolina law allows for 14 days before refrigerating any waste, most days the items collected are there no more than a day. Authorizing waste to be held on site for up to five days allows for weekends and weather events.

While much of the discussion focused on the Spruill Sand Mine site, county manager Ben Stikeleather reminded commissioners that the text amendment would apply to the entire county.

When commissioners asked how many sites would be affected, staff members were unable to provide a number, adding only that there would be a lot of them.

LoCicero added also that a similar use was approved in 2009 for Stericycle Waste Management in Moyock.

In approving the code changes, J. Owen Etheridge advised that he felt the wording to require a buffer was too vague.

“I would like to see ‘when necessary’ defined,” explained Etheridge. “Exactly what are we talking about? I don’t want to leave it up to somebody’s subjective judgment.”

After briefly talking about the buffers required to screen the property use from off-site views, a motion to approve warehousing and distribution of medical waste in the county included the requirement that a type C buffer be used when the site adjoins a residential and/or less intensely zoned property.

Other conditions include:
– Medical waste shall not be held on site for more than five days;
– When medical waste warehousing and distribution occurs on the same parcel as a state permitted mining operation, the warehousing and distribution activities shall not take place within the area permitted for use as a mine;
– No outdoor storage of medical waste with all waste kept inside approved containers, trailers, or structures;
– All required federal, state, and local permits are maintained;
– Processing or disposal of medical waste shall not occur on site.

The vote to approve was unanimous.

Other business for the evening included authorizing the purchase of 11.5 acres from Panther Landing, LLC, for use as convenience center; reappointing Virginia Agreste to the Historic Preservation Commission to serve a four-year term expiring January 17, 2024; naming Robert Peters to fill the final Ocean Sands Water and Sewer District position; and filling three Moyock Stormwater Service District advisory board vacancies with Jared Bobzien to complete an unexpired term ending October 19, 2020, Mark Dunn to fill an unexpired term ending October 19, 2021 and Kathy Ehler to fill an unexpired term ending October 19, 2021.

Three other items were tabled for action at later dates: a request to allow driveway widths of up to 40 feet when located on a street with curb and gutter section, a request to reduce driveway setbacks at side property lines from 10 feet to five feet and a lengthy request to amend seven Unified Development Ordinances to implement the Moyock Mega Site master plan (Currituck Station) and establishing the Planned Development – Currituck Station district and regulations.

Commissioners will hold a planning retreat at the Courthouse at noon on Friday, Feb. 7, and 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and convene for another regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17. All are open to the public.