Regulator acts after potential ‘risk to human health’ at warehouse

Steps have been taken at a warehouse unlawfully filled with more than 400 tonnes of NHS clinical waste after the Environment Agency raised concerns over a potential “significant risk to human health”.

The move followed an EA inspection in July at a site in Normanton, Yorkshire, formerly run by liquidated company Healthcare Environmental Services, after the site’s new operators discovered waste marked radioactive from an unnamed NHS trust in a bin dated June 2017. The site is only allowed to store 70 tonnes of waste.

According to the inspection report obtained by Health Service Journal, EA officials Louise Gorman and Arnold John expressed “serious cause for concern” over the “poor management of waste”, and said it was “reasonably foreseeable that there would be a significant impact on the environment and/or human health in the event of a fire… or escape of hazardous materials”.

In response, the site’s new operator Sharpsmart, which took over in August, has removed around 50 tonnes of waste, including the waste marked radioactive.

The EA has also told the firm to improve the site’s drainage and security. A source within the Environment Agency told HSJ its officials believe there are “currently no significant risks to the environment from the activities on the site”.

Sharpsmart, which counts around 90 hospitals as customers and began operating from the site in August, told HSJ it has ”executed a thorough audit with a follow-up action plan” to protect its staff and the environment which is being carried out in line with EA requirements.

It comes 13 months after HSJ revealed HES was unlawfully storing hundreds of tonnes of clinical waste, including anatomical waste from NHS patients. This prompted a multidepartment response from the government following a meeting of its emergency council.

It took a long time for EA to make a visit, but here is their report:  Environment Agency inspection report

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