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Stericycle: the Americans score big from tonnes of waste whose incineration kills Bucharest

Mihai Enciu și Eugen Cișmașu 0 comentarii

12.03.2020 - 17:22

After having lost our natural resources and all our strategic companies, now we are losing our waste too. If in politics we can still find such toxic microelements, Romanian hospitals are empty. A highly profitable business, hospital waste neutralisation has been monopolised by the Americans under the watch of the Competition Officers whom we are paying to monitor the market and sanction all fails. However, the market referee does not blow the whistle to stop the game that resulted in a private monopoly milking dozens of euros from the Romanian state. One of the major sources of pollution that constantly affect the capital city is the Chiajna landfill. The only reason this microbial bomb is still ticking is the fact that it can hold anything. Even a shallow excavation is enough to discover tonnes of infectious waste collected from hospitals across the country and buried on the outskirts of Bucharest.
Chiajna dump is where two waste incinerators operate. One is compliant, equipped with filters and operating based on a permit, a nice setting for the daytime. The second one however is not compliant and has no filters, being the one that incinerates waste at night, away from indiscrete eyes.

The “technological” plant serves the interests of an American company that produces billions of dollars a year and holds absolute monopoly over the Romanian medical waste treatment and disposal. The name of the company is Stericycle and it hides in our little country under several stage names. Mondeco, Ecomed, Cogen and so on are in fact companies controlled by Stericycle that impose the price and dictate the rules. And they do so because the technological facility in Chiajna, never properly controlled by the Environmental Guard, provides the Americans with a cheap, yet toxic solution to neutralise tonnes of infectious waste directly into the lungs of Bucharest people.

Ever since 2015, DIICOT [Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism] and the Prosecutor’s Office attached to Ilfov Court are playing catch with a file addressing the Stericycle business. This material is dedicated to the brave prosecutors taken down by their powerlessness in the fight with the American toxic invader.

Stericyle and the “regulation” of business opportunities with medical waste

“Stericycle România was established in early 2013 by the merger of 4 companies operating ever since 2005 in the field of hazardous waste management in Romania. We are part of Stericycle Group, the American company believed to be the leading business in medical waste management worldwide. We have the resources and the possibilities to deliver integrated waste management solutions”. This is the sterile self-presentation of the company that monopolises the Romanian medical waste market.


At ease and outgoing, the regulatory manager of Stericycle, Cosmin Mănăilă, used to pose as a well-informed guy 6 years ago on postamedicala.ro website managed by Medifarma health network, namely those private lads who glorify the Romanian health system that generates their profits.

Three issues stood out from the accounts of the “regulatory boss” of Stericycle. The first was that, as part of its criminal care for human beings, the State created a market for the private sector, forcing the hospitals to outsource their medical waste disposal services. The second one is that the specialised Romanian market is full and there is no place for further investments, that is other competitors. The third issue, perhaps the most important one, was the fact that the Romanian market was having a growth potential of up to 4.5 kg/capita/year of medical waste. In other words, the profit opportunity was the size of China!

Senator Mitt Romney, accused in 2012 of financing a company - Stericycle – which incinerated aborted foetuses from American hospitals.


A monopoly with political ramifications
 
To understand what this prestigious global company, leader in the medical waste disposal market, deals with, we must go back to 1999, when the investment fund Bain Capital, controlled by Mitt Romney who was managing assets worth $64 billion, invested $75 million in Stericycle. On the occasion of his running for the US presidency, in 2012, Romney was heavily attacked by religious groups who militate against abortion. He was accused of financing a company that incinerated aborted foetuses from American hospitals. Romney denied any link with Stericycle and claimed that Bain Capital withdrew from this business in February 1999.  From 2002 to 2006 Romney was Republican governor of Massachusetts. In USA, Stericycle Inc is a Delaware-based company the business of which exploded after the capital infusion received from Romney’s financial vehicle corporation. In Europe the company is called Stericycle Europe Sarl, a Luxembourg-based limited liability company. The company is known for its aggressive policy of overtaking the markets it penetrates. So aggressive that it has the behaviour of a toxic monopoly.

 

Stericycle’s schemes were sanctioned by the American justice system

The monopolistic operations of Stericycle in the United States were sanctioned by the attorneys

An investigation by Utah’s Attorney General completed in 2003 revealed a non-competition agreement of two companies operating in the field of medical waste collection and neutralisation in the period 1997-1999 in the states of Arizona and Utah. One of them is Stericycle, operating an incinerator and two steam sterilisers in Colorado, Henderson and controlling the medical waste market in the area. The second one is BFI Waste Systems of North America, operating in Arizona and Utah. The company was operating an incinerator in North Salt Lake, Utah, and one in Phoenix, Arizona. Both companies were competing in the three states until mid-1997, when they realised that they could split the markets so as to maximise their profits. In the period 24 November-15 December the two companies made a deal in breach of the antitrust law of Utah and Arizona, but also in breach of the federal law. By means of a “sale agreement”, BFI transferred to Stericycle, in Arizona, 2,520 of its customers, which were notified thereof. Until the contracts where amended, Stericycle acted as sub-contractor of BFI, the customers having no possibility to object in any way. In the same context, the workers, machinery, platforms, containers, basically the whole infrastructure used by the company to operate in Arizona, were transferred from BFI. Also, BFI undertook not to accept any customers from Arizona for 5 years, be it the ones handed over to Stericycle or new customers emerging on the territory of this state. At the same time, Stericycle was granted a pre-emptive right to select the customers in British Columbia province.

In a similar manner, Stericycle transferred operations of similar extent in the states of Colorado and Utah. In Colorado, BFI received 264 customers and in Utah 1,362, along with the entire infrastructure and staff. By novation of the contracts, the customers in the two states became captives of the two companies. Furthermore, after the agreements were concluded, Stericycle purchased the company Envirotech, operating in Arizona, and all the capacities of the two states, which were not part of the protocol with BFI, were closed down. The agreement of the two companies provided that the prices for access to the incinerators in Utah and Arizona were to be raised in case new specialised companies emerged, so that the region was completely secured. In order to cover its incineration capacity, Stericycle imported medical waste from California instead of accepting waste from Utah, which is in violation of the federal law.

The analysis of American attorneys shows that, through the agreement of the companies, the collection and transport activity become a monopolistic one as a result of the control over the incinerator. Basically, the customers were distributed arbitrarily and deprived of the possibility to choose between the providers. It was found that Section 1 of the Sherman Act and section 76-10-914(1) of the antitrust law of Utah had been violated in that state. Following a settlement with the attorneys, the two companies were forced to pay $820,000 each (320,000 in Arizona and 500,000 in Utah).  Unsurprisingly, in November 1999, Allied Waste Industries Inc, a company owned by BFI, sold this medical waste division to Stericycle.

 

STERICYCLE ROMANIA S.R.L.

MERGER PROJECT

OF NO. 1/9.10.2014

on the Merger by absorption of IF TEHNOLOGII S.R.L., ECO SERVTRANS S.R.L. and COGEN ENERGY MEDICAL COMPANY S.R.L. by STERICYCLE ROMANIA S.R.L.

Preamble

Considering:

·     Decision no. 1 of 9 October 2014 of the General Meeting of the Shareholders of STERICYCLE ROMANIA S.R.L.;

·     Decision no. 1 of 9 October 2014 of the General Meeting of the Shareholders of I F TEHNOLOGII S.R.L.;

·     Decision no. 1 of 9 October 2014 of the General Meeting of the Shareholders of ECO SERVTRANS S.R.L.;

·     Decision no. 1 of 9 October 2014 of the General Meeting of the Shareholders of COGEN ENERGY MEDICAL COMPANY S.R.L.;

·     The fact that the said decisions approved, in principle, the Merger by absorption of I F TEHNOLOGII S.R.L., ECO SERVTRANS S.R.L. and COGEN ENERGY MEDICAL COMPANY S.R.L. by STERICYCLE ROMANIA S.R.L. and the director of the said companies was commissioned to draft this Merger Project.

 

On the Romanian market of specialised services, Stericycle built its monopoly by buying out its competitors.

 

How Stericycle devoured its competitors on the Romanian market in just 2 years …
 
Let’s now recap what the Stericycle guys were saying in their introduction. So, they entered the Romanian market in 2013. In only 2 years they swallowed up for breakfast no less than 9 Romanian specialised companies by acquisitions and mergers, namely: IF Tehnologii Cluj Napoca, Eco Servtrans SRL Sibiu, Cogen Energy Medical SRL Craiova, Mondeco Suceava – which swallowed up Eco Serv Iași, Stericare Romania, which in turn digested Tehnodental Services, Guardian Ecoburn and Medical Waste. And these are only the mergers that we managed to document! Thus, since 2016, the only company operating significant business in the field of medical waste in Romania is Stericycle Romania SRL. The methods they used to take over the Romanian market are not different from those used in Uncle Sam’s land. Almost every time the acquired companies were fined by the Environmental Guard for irregularities. The competition was smashed with the dumping dictated by the Americans. If such companies were collecting medical waste at prices ranging from RON 4 to 7/kg when they penetrated the market, in only two years of competing with a company that stood its ground until recently, their prices went down to RON 1.7/kg. This price doesn’t even cover the value of the waste collecting packaging, let alone the profit. Facing bankruptcy, the Romanian companies served themselves up to the Americans on a silver platter.

As for how Stericycle observes the Romanian environmental laws, it is a long story. We only point out that the waste was collected at dumping prices. And that the waste also needed neutralisation. We only found one fine from the Environmental Guard for Stericycle and the report goes like this: “S.C. STERICYCLE ROMANIA SRL – Călineşti facility – the company operates hazardous and non-hazardous waste collection and treatment activities.  On-site verifications showed that the company was not operating a waste treatment and disposal activity as the waste sterilisation facility was temporarily shut down. A review of the delivery/transport forms of 2012 showed that the company did not have an annex indicating the dispatchers and the individual quantities taken over, as provided by GD no. 1061/2008 on transport of hazardous and non-hazardous waste on the territory of Romania.” The fine made the guys really sad – RON 30,000. Not even 10,000 dollars! Seriously? They were collecting without documents and nothing was treated or disposed of! Where was the hazardous waste going and how? We will answer this question when we reveal how Stericycle is mixed up with the villainous Romanian state!

The Court of Auditors confirms the investigation of Stericycle’s toxic monopoly!
 
Surprisingly, not all Romanian institutions are dozing off. Always alert despite his renown, Ol’ Nicu Văcăroiu from the Court of Auditors produced a report for an audit carried out over the period 2012-2014 conducted in the hospitals of the Ministry of Health, which was published in 2016. For those who what to check the truthfulness of our story, the report can be accessed here: http://www.curteadeconturi.ro/Publicatii/sinteza_rap_perf_deseuri__2016.pdf


P.S. Thanks to this report, in 2016 the Court of Auditors virtually threw the technocrat Ministry of Environment and the Environmental Guard into a big trash bin. Because the monkey business of Stericycle in waste neutralisation was in fact a crime against the environment and the public health.

In the following issue we will return with fresh disclosures about Stericycle and the complicity of the Ministry of Health, which allowed the incineration of the foetuses.

 

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