A disposal company working for the U.K.s National Health Service stockpiled hundreds of tons of human body parts and dangerous waste as it didnt have the means to get rid of them.
Amputated limbs, infectious liquids and dangerous waste linked to cancer treatment were sent to Healthcare Environment Services Ltd (HES) by the NHS, but were not disposed of because of a lack of incineration capacity, according to documents seen by the Health Service Journal.
At an emergency meeting of Cobra — a cross-departmental British government crisis committee — last month, £1 million was earmarked to help tackle the problem.
The Health Service Journal reported that HESs site in Normanton, northern England, had excess waste levels of 350 metric tons in September, five times higher than the 70-ton limit. The anatomical waste, which is made up of human body parts and surgical waste, has now been placed in fridges, and HES is attempting to export 750 tons of pharmaceutical waste to the Netherlands.
According to the report, the U.K. governments Environment Agency served 13 warning notices and two “compliance notices” on HES for not disposing of waste within the desired timeframe.
The leaked documents say that affected NHS trusts have been told to stop paying HES for contracts in which the stockpiling constitutes a breach of environmental laws. The documents add that if HES goes out of business, it would “significantly impact the management of waste within both hospital and primary care services across England.”
In a statement to the Health Service Journal, HES said it has “highlighted the reduction in the UKs high-temperature incineration capacity for the last few years. This is down to the aging infrastructure, prolonged breakdowns and the reliance on zero waste to landfill policies, taking up the limited high-temperature incineration capacity in the market.”