Containers with hazardous waste to be removed after outcry
Medical waste piled up in unsecured shipping containers by a roadside at Southside is to be moved after an outcry from St David’s residents.
At least seven containers marked with biohazard warnings have been left out in the open close to a site where plans for an biomedical incinerator have riled residents.
Opponents say there are 17 storage containers — although some may contain construction materials for the plant to be built at Southside by MediWaste, a private company that took over the job from the hospital.
“They have been there for a long time — since February for sure,” a member of the group Concerned Citizens of St David’s told The Royal Gazette.
“It’s certainly longer than any UK standards for waste management. The containers should be refrigerated, number one, and should not be there as long as this.
“We can’t imagine what will happen when those containers are opened up.”
The group member, who asked not to be named, said Concerned Citizens had been told over the weekend that the containers would be moved by yesterday.
“Today is Monday and they are still there,” the resident said, adding that owner Donte Hunt, the chief executive of MediWaste, had given assurances that the containers were sealed.
“We do not know the condition of them, whether the containers have any holes, given they have been there for so long.
“We were told they would go to a proper secure location. We understand that was to be the dump at the airport.”
As of yesterday, at least one container was said to be giving off odour.
The resident said there appeared to be “17-plus” containers, adding: “We believe there are more stored elsewhere.”
Containers marked as biohazards appear to be refrigerated. It was unclear how many containers had been marked.,
The Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed the move last night, saying that MediWaste had been contacted by the Department of Planning and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Pollution Control over the containers.
An official from Pollution Control told the company to move them because they were “not in compliance with the licence issued by the Environmental Authority".
"Recognising that the containers used for Red-Bag Waste Storage were placed at the Southside location in error, MediWaste obtained a provision to their licence from the Environmental Authority.
“This provision granted MediWaste permission to remove the containers by November 30 to temporary storage at the Airport Waste Management Facility."
"Furthermore, the ministry can advise that once notified of a breach, no penalties are applied if the offending matter is removed.
“In this instance, due to the full co-operation of MediWaste to resolve this matter in a timely fashion and as instructed, the Department of Planning and DENR did not need to take further action."
Concerned Citizens has appealed for a stop order for the incinerator, but the project has moved past the window for planning objections.
The MediWaste facility, approved in September for Waller’s Point Road, Southside, is on Bermuda Land Development Company property and industrially zoned land.
But news that work had begun on the incinerator sparked a furore in St David’s, where residents said public notice of the proposal passed under the radar.
Andrew Dias, the chief executive of the BLDC, said he was unaware whether permission had been given by the Department of Planning for the containers to be stored in the open.
He said: “The correct person to ask would be Mr Hunt. They are to be removed, I know that much.
“I have no knowledge of the containers because they are locked. I believe Mr Hunt has others on a different road that contain building material.”
Concerned Citizens, which is expected to hold its third town hall meeting on the controversy on Thursday, questioned why the emissions-free equipment used at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital was not still in action.
The device, known as a macerator, replaced the hospital incinerator in 2013 and used high-temperature steam to sterilise the waste — which ranges from body parts and soiled bandages to used hypodermic needles.
The Concerned Citizens member said: “The hospital has said they do not want to be handling waste management.
“They had this system — why didn’t they put out an RFP for a third party to maintain it and outsource it?”
The group member also questioned what impact the switch in disposal methods might have on medical costs.
Bermuda Hospitals Board’s ten-year contract with the firm, valued at $7.4 million, started on February 1.
BHB said its contract with MediWaste started on February 1.
A spokeswoman for BHB said that the macerator was “now at the end of its useful life”, and that outsourcing to MediWaste meant a specialist service was handling it.
Outsourcing also meant BHB would avoid bills for maintenance and new equipment as well as alternative overseas contracts when equipment broke down.
Attempts by the Gazette to reach Mr Hunt yesterday were unsuccessful.