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Experts warn about ‘environmental’ bomb over hazardous medical waste
April 23, 2017, 8:39 am
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EPA suspends transportation services for waste materials

In a new chapter of health and environmental risks which could devastate both the citizens and expatriates, sources from the environmental sector have warned about a new ‘environmental bomb’ that could explode amid lack of knowledge on the destiny of tons of hazardous medical waste, reports local daily.

According to the sources, these waste materials are produced by private medical institutions, indicating the Environment Public Authority (EPA) has suspended transportation services for waste materials generated by private health centers and clinics to the receiving and treatment stations of solid waste in Shuaiba plant starting from 1 April, 2017.

Sources disclosed the companies in charge of transporting medical waste have informed the concerned bodies in private medical centers and clinics about the decision of EPA which stopped receiving waste materials in Shuaiba Solid Waste Treatment Plant starting from the first day of this month. Sources said the companies told the private health centers that the issue is out of their hands as their role is limited to transporting medical waste to the aforementioned plant as per the contract.

Sources confirmed that EPA informed the Ministry of Health about its previous request to extend until the first of the current month the receiving of medical waste materials and expired medicines through the Public Authority for Industry because the plant is under the latter’s jurisdiction on condition that the contract will not be renewed if the waste material transportation companies do not adhere with the rules and regulations. This is in addition to obliging all private clinics and hospitals to deal with qualified companies to transport hazardous medical waste.

Sources pointed out the responsibility of receiving and treating medical waste produced by private medical facilities falls under the Ministry of Health, whether through installation of new units or designation of an existing incinerator to receive these wastes materials until the designated plant in Kabad is completed and becomes operational. Sources warned an environmental disaster might occur if the problem is not solved immediately.

Meanwhile, sources affirmed that the Ministry of Health did not refuse receiving private sector medical waste; however, it does not have the capacity to receive all waste materials. Sources cited administrative and technical obstacles in using the ministry’s incinerators to dispose waste materials from private health facilities.

Sources clarified that for the ministry’s incinerators to receive private sector waste materials, it should be within the terms of contract and fees, so the issue must be presented to oversight bodies – Fatwa and Legislative Department, Central Tenders Committee and State Audit Bureau – to obtain approval and such process will take time as per the requirements.

Sources asked, “Where do medical waste materials go at a time the Shuaiba Treatment Plant stopped receiving them? Will there be penalties or citations for private health centers and clinics in this regard? What will be the role of the Ministry of Health and how it will tackle the environmental crisis if any?”

Sources stressed the risks of not getting rid of waste materials properly include spread of diseases. “If the concerned local authorities do not find a suitable solution, this might prompt the World Health Organization to intervene and then sanctions will be imposed on the country,” sources added.

Source: Arab Times

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