After learning that human fetal remains may have been among the medical waste used to generate electricity at a Marion County, Oregon, waste-to-energy plant, officials have taken definitive action to end the possible incineration of aborted fetuses.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Commissioners made amendments to contracts and officially enacted an ordinance last Wednesday to ensure that these fetal remains will be barred from future use.

This action follows a temporary shutdown of the waste-to-energy program for the period of about one week in April.

County public information officer Jolene Kelley told TheBlaze Monday that the energy plant’s equipment was down for maintenance when officials halted the program; at the time it was not possible to process the materials anyway.

Kelley called the equipment issue “a coincidence” in timing, noting that commissioners Janet Carlson and Sam Brentano had just learned at the time about the possible human fetal use after a concerned resident highlighted a Canadian article outlining the allegation.

“They were absolutely shocked,” Kelley said of the officials’ reaction.

See a portion of the new ordinance below:

A screen shot

A screen shot from the Marion County commissioners office

Kelley said that the county has not been able to confirm whether aborted and miscarried remains were actually included in the waste, as the boxes have always been sealed when the plant receives them.

Following negative media attention and the temporary shutdown of the program, Kelley explained that the 15 companies carrying medical materials to the energy plant were told they needed to provide certification that fetal materials would not be transported to the plant in the future.

“The medical waste program is an important one and it’s an important service to provide. It just was never intended for this type of material,” she said. “The board wants to be sure that it wasn’t a shutdown of the medical waste program in general … but anything that could be considered human remains in a respectful manner.”

None of the companies have protested this requirement, allowing the county to commence its use of medical waste to generate electricity.

“[The companies] can start bringing in their deliveries as long as they have certified and received certifications of the waste that it doesn’t include any human fetal tissue,” she told TheBlaze.

The letter that will be signed by haulers of medical waste defines human fetal tissue as “tissue or cells from a dead human embryo or fetus after a spontaneous or induced abortion, or after a stillbirth.”

See a copy of the certification note below:

A screen shot from the Marion County commissioners office

A screen shot from the Marion County commissioners office

“That the ordinance isn’t in words only,” Kelley added. “[The commissioners] want to be sure that they’re able to ensure it doesn’t happen.”

Kelley said that, aside from one or two concerns, most residents have expressed positivity surrounding the commissioners’ decision to ban the tissue.

Both Carlson, a Mormon, and Brentano, a Catholic, are pro-life and have expressed so publicly.

“I think both of our commissioners have stated publicly that they are pro-life,” Kelley said, noting that the two likely allow their personal views to impact their policy like anyone else in their position. “For any elected official their personal views are their core compass and value.”

A call and email to Stericycle, a company that reportedly carries the waste from Washington state and British Columbia to Oregon for use at the plant, were not returned.

This isn’t the first time human fetal tissue allegations like this have emerged. As TheBlaze previously reported, thousands of aborted and miscarried babies have reportedly been incinerated along with medical waste at U.K. hospitals, with some of the remains being used to help heat medical facilities.

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