Hazardous hospital incinerator
International environmental organisation warns against threat of new incinerators
Malta, 26 June, 2001 - Greenpeace today revealed that the
response to the tender issued last October by the Ministry of
Health, for an alternative to the existing incinerator at St.Lukes
Hospital, has once again been postponed to September, the third
delay this year (1). The organisation demanded an answer as to
where the rest of the clinical waste generated from clinics and
hospitals other than St.Lukes is being dumped. Greenpeace also
cautioned the public to be wary of new incinerator proposals in the
waste management strategy to be published next week.
"Is it a coincidence that the response to the tender has now been
postponed to September, when the consultation process for the
national waste management strategy closes in August? Is the
Minister of Health changing his mind on his repeated commitments
over two years to implement non-burn technologies as an
immediate solution to that hazardous incinerator?" said Caroline
Muscat for Greenpeace Mediterranean.
Greenpeace also called on Minister Deguara to provide information
on where the clinical waste generated from hospitals and clinics
other than St.Lukes is being disposed of and whether this was
being sent to Maghtab to add to the hazards already being posed
by the ever-growing dumpsite.
Greenpeace questioned the Minister of Health, Dr. Deguara, on
what excuse he could provide that could possibly justify the
perpetuation of health and environmental hazards by the sector
responsible for public health care. With an incinerator spewing
toxic fumes and the possibility of clinical waste being disposed of
openly at the Maghtab dumpsite, Greenpeace stressed that clinical
waste management is in crisis with unimaginable risks being
imposed on an unknowing public.
"Every single day that that incinerator operates, it is spreading
health risks and contaminating our environment. Dr. Deguara
knows the health and environmental hazards associated with
incineration and the Minister also knows that there are cleaner
alternatives to clinical waste management, such as autoclaving.
His repeated promises prove that, although they have so far not
been translated into any real action," added Muscat.
Greenpeace expressed outrage at the fact that the residents in
the surrounding areas and the workers at the hospital continue
to be subjected to unnecessary risks because of the
administrations inability to perform. The organisation said that
the public should not be expected to tolerate a situation where
there is no real control over the highly infectious and toxic waste
being dumped into the environment, and where waste is
incinerated to emit cancer-causing substances, such as dioxins,
on a daily basis.
"With respect to clinical waste disposal, the problem is basically
a biological one concerning its infectious nature. By incinerating
such wastes the biological problem is converted into a chemical
one, by the creation and dispersion of toxic compounds. Dioxin is
one of these toxic compounds, which has been known to cause
cancer," added Muscat.
The cure to clinical waste management revolves around the need
to implement adequate waste reduction, a change in the
procurement of materials eliminating those products containing
hazardous substances, such as PVC and mercury, waste
segregation and staff training. The infectious waste can be
suitably sterilised by appropriate techniques, such as autoclaving.
Greenpeace is demanding the immediate shut down of the waste
incinerator at St.Lukes to be replaced with a clean alternative
that would eliminate the hazards that the public is currently
exposed to and also safeguard the environment. Greenpeace
said that this is a necessary first step to the closure of all
incinerators on the island spreading the disease of toxic
pollution. Greenpeace stressed that it would fight any proposals
for new incinerators now or in future.
For more information please contact Caroline Muscat at the
Greenpeace Mediterranean office on 356 490784/5 or on
mobile 0942 9964
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