Daily Dispatches
Commissioner Samuel Brentano speaks at an emergency meeting of the Marion County Commission in Salem, Ore.
Associated Press/Photo by Jonathan J. Cooper
Commissioner Samuel Brentano speaks at an emergency meeting of the Marion County Commission in Salem, Ore.

Oregon officials: Power plant will stop burning aborted babies from Canada

Abortion

An Oregon incineration power plant has been burning the bodies of Canada’s aborted and miscarried babies through a medical waste agreement with a company that works for regional hospitals in British Columbia. In an emergency meeting Thursday, the Marion County board of commissioners halted the burning of all medical waste indefinitely. 

“Bottom line: I’m not going to facilitate abortion,” county chair Sam Brentano told Oregon news station KGW. “It’s the ultimate disrespect to innocence.”

The revelation came from the B.C. Catholic, which investigated British Columbia’s Ministry of Health in an apparent response to last month’s reports from the United Kingdom’s own government-run health system. Ten British medical facilities operated by the National Health Service admitted they burned babies’ remains along with trash, often under a “green” energy program. 

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Kristy Anderson, a health ministry spokeswoman from British Columbia, confirmed the Catholic’s findings to the Associated Press. Regional health authorities in Canada have a contract with Stericycle, the largest medical waste disposal company in the United States. Stericycle sends biomedical waste, including fetal tissue, cancerous tissue, and amputated limbs, to Oregon, where it’s incinerated in a waste-energy plant.

The Catholic identified the plant as Covanta Marion, based in Brooks, Ore. The facility is owned and operated by Covanta, in a partnership with Marion County. According to its website, the plant processes 550 tons per day of municipal solid waste, generating up to 13 megawatts of energy sold to Portland General Electric.

Covanta told KGW on Wednesday that the county is responsible for medical waste contracts. The plant just burns what it’s sent, and the boxes are sealed. “Covanta is shocked by these allegations,” the company said, vowing to stop accepting shipments from British Columbia. County spokeswoman Jolene Kelley said Wednesday that commissioners never had any indication that babies’ remains might be included. “We learned that today,” she said.

Marion County estimates that the facility processes about 700 tons of in-county medical waste each year and about 1,200 tons from elsewhere. At the county’s emergency meeting Thursday, staff said they have had a contract with the waste company that British Columbia uses for five to seven years, according to KATU reporter Stephen Mayer.

Commissioners moved to end all business dealings with the company, Mayer reported, with one commissioner calling the whole ordeal “a disgusting disrespect for human life.” The practice did not violate any Oregon laws, but commissioners called it an “ethical issue” and indefinitely halted all burning of medical waste—regardless of its source—until they can verify the contents. New contracts will include clauses that forbid the inclusion of any fetal tissue.

What the British Columbia Health Ministry does and will do with the bodies it discards through Stericycle, which also has contracts with Planned Parenthood on this side of the border, remains unclear. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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