Marion County has put a temporary stop to a program that was converting human tissue - and possibly aborted fetuses - into electricity for Oregon homes.
A report out of Canada prompted Marion County commissioners to schedule an emergency meeting Thursday morning. That's when the commissioners gave final approval to an order to stop the company Covanta Marion from receiving medical waste until procedures are in place to prevent the burning of fetal material to generate power.
The county's order followed a report from an article from Canada, published Tuesday in Vancouver-based The B.C. Catholic. The British Columbia Ministry of Health confirmed that a Canadian company has a contract to send biomedical waste, including fetal tissue, to Oregon where it's incinerated.
"We are outraged and disgusted that this material could be included in medical waste received at the facility," said Commissioner Janet Carlson. "We did not know this practice was occurring until [Wednesday]."
The Covanta Marion waste-to-power plant processes 550 tons per day of municipal solid waste, generating up to 13 megawatts of energy sold to Portland General Electric.
"We provide an important service to the people of this state and it would be a travesty if this program is jeopardized due to this finding," Commissioner Sam Brentano said.
Covanta Marion issued a statement Thursday. It says: "The medical waste program at the Marion County Resource Recovery Facility is county run and managed. Marion County contracts for and arranges the delivery of medical waste to the Marion County Resource Recovery Facility. Covanta is shocked by these allegations and is cooperating with the county's suspension of its medical waste program pending further review."
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