Waste disposal company looking to locate in Camden Industrial Park

By Amanda Walker

Special to The Watchman

CAMDEN – Complete Medical Waste, a medical waste consulting company currently operating out of a home office in Camden is seeking to expand its business to the Camden Industrial Park. The owner of the company, Robert Edward “Bo” Pierce Jr, is vice-president of Greer Enterprises in Mobile, where he is an environmental consultant.

Pierce started Complete Medical Waste in November of 2013 after moving to Camden. He has approached the Wilcox County Industrial Development Authority, the IDA, seeking to purchase 2.5 acres of land in the Camden Industrial Park to build a medical waste holding facility. Pierce projects the start date for the project to be July of 2016.

A public forum was hosted Monday, March 9, by the Wilcox County Commission in conjunction with the IDA. Commissioner, Bill Albritton, explained that the meeting was a courtesy extended to the citizens to ask questions and was not required by law.

Bo Pierce

Bo Pierce

George Alford, director/consulting manager of the IDA, advised that the land is available in the Industrial Park and will come back to the IDA should Complete Medical Waste not receive a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, ADEM.

The ADEM permit has not yet been applied for by Complete Medical Waste.

Pierce assured the audience there would be no incinerator on the property, as the cost of an incinerator is $7 million. Should the business grow to include a treatment process rather than being just a holding facility, the method would be a steam sterilization system costing $500,000.

But that type of expansion is an uncertain possibility being that there is no way to predict how the business will grow.

Currently, Pierce is not a licensed transporter of medical waste. He does not yet have a box truck required for transportation.

Pierce said he started Complete Medical Waste so that when people call to have their medical waste picked up, they could talk to a person and not a computer. He said, “I have a third party hauler – who I trust – that manages my wastes and picks it up. They carry it to a waste management facility, all of which is permitted by ADEM. They treat it in a facility and then take it to a subtitle D landfill – a lined landfill. The nearest one to Wilcox County is over towards Brewton.”

He continued, “If the waste was ever processed in Wilcox County – which in the current business plan is ever going to be – but if it becomes that way, ADEM will know about it. There will be a public forum advertised for four weeks before I’m allowed to get that permit. You will have four weeks to contest or do whatever the county chooses to do to say they don’t want it here, and/or why it can’t be here…because legally nothing says you can’t have a medical waste treatment facility somewhere. It doesn’t say you can’t treat the medical wastes – you just have to follow the codes and permits of ADEM. That’s a long way off if it ever happens.”

For now though, Pierce says, “At the end of the day it is about a truck – a box van – being parked out there at the Industrial Park with a chain link fence around it. There are going to be two trailers out there and a box to store sterilized containers.”

Trucks containing medical waste would be parked at the facility no longer than 72 hours before having to me transported to a treatment facility in Glencoe. A reefer unit, a refrigerated trailer, can hold wastes for a maximum of 35 days before transport. Complete Medical Waste would be subject to inspection by ADEM.

As of this report, Pierce is operating without a license in Wilcox County because no license is required.

For legal reasons, Pierce would not name any of the business he contracts with, but the IDA director, Alford, did not mind saying Pierce handles the Pine Hill Medical Clinic’s waste and will also have a contract with J. Paul Jones Hospital in Camden.

Citizens voiced concerns ranging from spills to catastrophes.

In the case of an accident, Pierce said, “We immediately call an ER response company and ADEM with a report of what happened and how it happened.”

Another matter of concern is that once Complete Medical Waste is permitted by ADEM to be a licensed transporter, the Wilcox County Commission – nor the IDA – will have any say whatsoever if the business grows to include a steam sterilization treatment system. Commissioner Joey Green asked if the commission would have any input and Pierce said, “Honestly, the county will have no say so.”

Pierce was also questioned about what the benefit to Wilcox County would be in having Complete Medical Waste locate in the Industrial Park. He said, “I guess none.” He was then asked how many jobs the company would for certain assure after three years. He answered, “One,” his own. In his projected plan, Pierce hopes to have three full-time employees at the end of a five-year timespan.