Sri Lanka pollution from National Cancer Institute

Godigamuwa is a Sri Lankan village in Maharagama, close to the National Cancer Institute. The first thing a visitor notices is a strong chemical odour in the air. A waterway that flows past the houses of Godigamuwa carries waste water and chemical effluents discharged by the cancer hospital. Most of the houses in this highly populated part of Maharagama are permeated by the chemical odour.

Residents say the colour of the waste water changes from red to blue to black, and even discarded syringes, pieces of used gauze, saline tubes and medicine vials are seen floating in the waste water. The discharge ends up in a field where children play and residents grow rice and vegetables. According to residents, the hospital releases waste water into the drains at least three times a day. The odour is especially strong at night and this has been going on for almost 10 years, they say.

“The drain at the top of the road overflows and our houses are flooded by this stinking waste water. When the water subsides, the garden is littered with used saline tubes, empty medicine bottles and dirty cotton wads.” Two incinerators on the hospital premises are broken and the hospital’s garbage is burnt outside the hospital, out in the open. Large amounts of plastic materials, and the whole area is filled with smoke.”

The news report is well worth a read, as a reminder of the scale of the problem made worse by the use of cytotoxics and radioactive materials that enter the waste also.

Clear, trouble in paradise. The high rainfall and particularly high water table together with social conditions and lifestyle issues create additional and ever more extensive problems when pollutants enter water supplies and contaminate drinking water and water used for washing, crop irrigation etc.

This is an appalling, but sadly still common breach of waste management standards and environmental care, but the causes may extend to lack of funding and material resources, and lack of technical expertise. Though pushing forward with igh uality medicine, developed without concomitant development in back room infrastructure, the pu


  1. doesnt medivac have an MOU with the srilankan government to provide 25 clinical waste disposal units?


  2. There is good news, the sri lankan ministry of health will visit Medivac in Australia on the 6th February to inspect and negotiate the purchase of 25 environmentally friendly clinical waste convertors. I would say the National Cancer Institute of Maharagama will be the first to receive one.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.