The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) will meet with Labour MSP, Monica Lennon, to discuss what is being done to clear up a reported 300 tonnes of clinical waste at a depot in Shotts, Lanarkshire.
The site was run by Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) until December 2018. Spanish firm Tradebe has taken over the contract to dispose of NHS waste but a backlog remains at the site, according to Daily Record.
In a letter to SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn, Labour healthcare spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “This is an extremely serious matter and people are rightly worried.
“I am aware SEPA issued enforcement notices in September 2018 and again in December 2018, and that regular inspections are being carried out.
“It is now over eight months since the first notice and the bottom line is that the clinical waste remains on site. I would be grateful if you could explain why.”
SEPA officers continue to maintain regular site inspections and to date are satisfied that there is no immediate risk to the environment or local communities.
SEPA has confirmed that arrangements are due to be made to meet with Ms Lennon to discuss the storage of clinical waste at the former HES site near Shotts. IT says there is no immediate risk to the environment or local communities.
HES had previous managed all of Scotland’s clinical waste disposal before it was embroiled in a waste stockpiling scandal.
Leaked reports obtained by The Health Service Journal (HSJ) in October last year reportedly showed that “amputated limbs and pharmaceutical waste” were among the stockpiled waste not processed and disposed of within the correct regulatory timeframes.
A criminal investigation was launched along with a clear up operation.
HES suggested the backlog was due to a reduction in incinerator capacity – claims which the Environment Agency rebuffed.
HES then sought “upwards of £15m” in damages following the termination of contracts to deal with the clinical waste of 17 health trusts.
150 workers were subsequently made redundant at its Shotts HQ last year.
A spokesperson from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) told Circular Online: “SEPA is aware that, following a petition on 8 April 2019 for the winding up of Healthcare Environmental Services Limited, interim liquidators have been appointed.
“Compliance is non-negotiable and SEPA has been in communication with the interim liquidators, to whom environmental obligations under the environmental licences for both sites now fall, to ensure the environment and communities remain safeguarded. SEPA officers continue to maintain regular site inspections and to date are satisfied that there is no immediate risk to the environment or local communities.
“SEPA continues to support the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and health boards as part of the ongoing contingency arrangements, to ensure that clinical waste across all NHS boards in Scotland continues to be stored, collected and disposed of appropriately.
“All contingency measures will ensure that environmental and human health are appropriately protected and, to date, our inspections have not identified any current risk of pollution from the waste stored on these sites.”