Catholic News Service photo
An illustration depicts a human fetus in a womb. 
Catholic News Service photo
An illustration depicts a human fetus in a womb. 

BROOKS — An Oregon incinerator has been ordered to stop accepting medical waste to burn for purposes of generating electricity after officials learned the wast may include tissue from aborted fetuses from British Columbia.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners, said it is taking immediate action to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries at the plant that has been turning waste into energy since 1987.

British Columbia Health Ministry officials acknowledged that regional health authorities there have a contract with a company that sends biomedical waste, such as fetal tissue, cancerous tissue and amputated limbs, to Oregon, where it's incinerated in the waste-energy plant.

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

Marion County estimates that the facility processes about 700 tons of in-county medical waste each year and about 1,200 tons from elsewhere, making it a small percentage of the total waste burned. Out-of-town medical waste is charged a higher fee.

Covanta Marion is believed to be the only plant generating energy from waste in Oregon.

The Environmental Protection Agency says medical waste from hospitals is generally excluded from the municipal solid waste used to generate electricity.