Environment News Service (ENS)
Environment News Service (ENS)

Mounds of Improperly Dumped Medical Waste to Be Microwaved

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

SAN JOSE, California (ENS) - Sanitec Industries, Inc. has been hired to dispose of medical waste and patients medical records improperly dumped in a San Jose area landfill last month. The company says over 100,000 pounds of medical waste was improperly dumped – several hundred times more than was reported.

Hundreds of pounds of confidential patient medical and financial records and files were included in the waste, and the dumping jeopardized patients' privacy, Sanitec said in a statement Wednesday.

The company said contact with the medical waste may have placed landfill and transportation workers at risk of injury and infection through needle pricks and exposure to infected blood and tissues.

In early April, a worker at the Guadelupe landfill in the Almaden area of San Jose discovered medical waste and confidential patient records and financial information that had been improperly dumped in the municipal landfill.

Information on the waste including letterhead, labels and serial numbers indicating that the waste came from four area hospitals and medical centers.

Acting in accordance with trauma scene containment regulations governing bio-hazardous waste spills, Guadelupe contracted with certified health waste clean-up firms, AllChem and Clean Harbors, both of which removed the waste to their respective facilities. There, the waste was weighed, sorted and labeled according to which hospital generated it, and loaded into three foot square lined boxes.

Each firm then contacted Sanitec to safely dispose of the medical waste and patient records in accordance with state, county and federal environmental regulations and privacy laws.

Sanitec is accomplishing this work using its patented Microwave Medical Waste Disinfection System which shreds waste into low volume unrecognizable matter and microwaves it to render it safe for landfill disposal.

Reports that medical records involved were limited to personally identifiable information on IV bags, ID bracelets, and prescription bottles, are not accurate, Sanitec said. 'In fact, hundreds of pounds of sensitive patient medical records, including files and financial and insurance documents were present in waste removed from the landfill,' the company said.

State and federal law requires these documents to be destroyed before disposal.

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