Despite almost 2,000 objections filed against the plans, the Planning Service has approved the location of the landfill site for non-hazardous waste at Cam Quarry, near the village of Macosquin.
This must be set against long-standing concerns regarding landfill of clinical waste and of other hazardous wastes in sites across Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
With claims of clinical waste identified in in this site, by Friends of the Earth, these allegations will no doubt continue to arise.
Investigations of illicit clinical waste deposit are sometimes difficult to resolve. In those cases investigated by Blenkharn Environmental, excavation can reveal huge numbers of appropriately labelled and colour-coded waste containers, or just a few ‘clinical’ items. In the latter case, perhaps just an occasional wound dressing, a urinary catheter, some syringes with or without a sharps bin, maybe some drug vials etc can reflect care in the community.
These items are clinical waste, but generally no more hazardous than are nappies, used tissues and wound dressings etc; risk assessment can be downgraded as the probability of coming into contact with these wastes is negligible.
This will become a more common problem as community nurses seek to avoid removing small amounts of clinical waste when treating patients in their own home, and Local Authorities and PCTs refuse to meet the challenge and remain adamant that such wastes ‘belong to’ and are the responsibility of the nurses. The rather woolly regulations don’t help. When push comes to shove, the waste finds its way to the patients’ black bag and may later be seen at landfill.