Bloody medical waste illegally dumped

2013-10-22 00:00

BLOOD-STAINED cotton wool, used needles and equipment for drips have been dumped on the side of the road in Lincoln Meade, posing a serious health risk.

The medical waste was thrown in with normal waste at an illegal dumping ground, off a dirt road past the New England landfill site. The waste was spotted by Johan Nel when he was taking a walk with his brother on Sunday.

“I always come for a walk this way; I know where the dumps are. For some reason I decided to go and look at this one. I was shocked. There were exposed needles, cotton wool full of blood and used drips. I’m concerned for the children who live nearby. What if they decide to play with this stuff? They could get very sick,” Nel told The Witness.

There are various illegal dumping sites in this area, he said.

While sifting through the waste with a stick, Nel found the name of a local doctor who received a diploma in HIV management at UKZN. “This worried me the most; what if the blood on these items is infected blood?” said Nel.

The Witness contacted the doctor who confirmed that the he makes use of a registered waste disposal company. Attempts to get official comment from the company the doctor named were unsuccessful yesterday.

Ian du Randt, managing director of Compass Waste Services, said it is illegal to dispose of medical waste in such a careless manner. He said culprits caught dumping medical waste illegally can face fines of between R5 million and R10 million.

The waste found at the site falls into the category of health care risk waste, which is hazardous to human health and the environment. The waste is separated into different categories, which should not be mixed, according to the Compass Waste website.

“This is a serious matter. Proper disposal of medical waste depends on its type. There are protocols. All generators of medical waste should have a registered service provider to dispose of it. Different types of medical waste get handled differently. For example, needles or syringes must be put into sharpsmart containers. The service provider then picks it up, sterilises the needles with steam, shreds them and then dumps them in specialised landfills; you can’t just dump it anywhere,” said Du Randt.

Since being informed by The Witness about the illegal medical waste, Du Randt said they have notified the proper authorities and will be inspecting and cleaning up the site today. Attempts to get comment from Msunduzi Municipality were unsuccessful yesterday.

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