More landfill discoveries

Alongside the revelation of radioactive wastes of hospital origin having been deposited in N Ireland landfill, and the many incidents and irregularities in clinical waste disposal South of the border, there are reports of landfill problems elsewhere.

In Greece, the department of the Attica Regional Authority responsible for managing the Fylis landfill northwest of Athens suggested on Wednesday that more than 20 tons of hazardous medical waste has made its way to the dump since late November.

The announcement came after the fourth discovery in just 10 days of hospital waste at the capital’s biggest landfill. The waste, which included used gauze, tubes and IV drips, was brought to the landfill in dump trucks doing their regular rounds, suggesting that hospitals around Athens are using municipal bins to dispose of hazardous waste.

Not surprising perhaps, as Greece is still facing its most severe economic failure. Perhaps predictably therefore, corners are cut, rules are broken, and regulations ignored.

Meanwhile, more clinical (medical) waste has been found at Monroeville landfill, Pennsylvania.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) said that it had taken “immediate action” after learning of the improper disposal. That was after inspectors uncovered it at UPMC Shadyside hospital.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said the waste found on Wednesday came from UPMC’s Shadyside, Magee, Mercy and Montefiore hospitals. They found “blood bags” and bloody tubing in about four dumpsters. Regulators are concerned, especially after getting assurances from UPMC, and will send inspectors to hospitals.

Read more: http://www.wtae.com/news/local/allegheny/more-medical-waste-dumped-in-monroeville/-/10927008/23550658/-/137uypjz/-/index.html

These incidents highlight the need for effective regulation, that works proactively to ensure few, if any, breaches in correct disposal policy. That might support enforcement action, but should start with training and education to encourage and support correct source segregation and disposal.

Regrettably, too often regulatory action is focussed solely on the operator, who perhaps inadvertently finds themselves with some inappropriate or mixed waste fractions, while the root cause lies squarely with the waste producer.

It is therefore refreshing to see the Pittsburgh Department of Environmental Protection working with UPMC to prevent any recurrence, rather than simply persecuting the landfill operator for matters largely outside their control.

 

 

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