In yet another shock horror news report it is claimed that HES were storing mountains of waste and ‘body parts’ in a freezer that for months had the power turned off.
Is that true, and if it is, is it a problem?
There have been so many claims and counterclaims about all this that the truth may well be lost completely. However, I noted in some of the photos that the room in which wastes were piled up did have chillers mounted in clear view (below).
It is not unreasonable to consider chilling a waste store, though realistically it adds nothing other than a substantial electricity bill. I did some work in a number of UAE hospitals some years ago, and in the UK, where clinical wastes were stored under chilled conditions. It made no difference at all. The bulk of the waste volumes and loose filling of sacks, then stored inside Eurocarts resulting in vain attempts to cool trapped air. Core temperatures were unchanged after days and weeks; the effect on bacterial decomposition rates, and thus on smell, was negligible.
So, unless there was some wish to cool the room for the comfort of staff, I see no real issue here.
It is certainly not appropriate to freeze tissue wastes, as the latest report suggests. Instead, these must be fast tracked to approved incineration; there is no alternative.
One other thing catches my eye in this report. “Workers were also allegedly made to empty tubs of needles and medical waste into cardboard boxes which were stockpiled in Normanton, West Yorks.” If that is true, it is obviously of very great concern due to the risk to workers and the questions about the fate of those decanted needles. However, I think the best approach is to take it with a pinch of salt, in the hope that the Environment Agency, or perhaps better HSE, deal with this entire debacle.