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Firm is ordered to destroy body parts and medical waste.

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political editor

AFIRM which built up stockpiles of body parts and other medical waste has been ordered to dispose of material stored on Tyneside.

The Environment Agency has handed Healthcare Environment Services (HES) an enforcement notice ordering it to deal with a backlog of medical waste at a facility on the North Tyneside Industrial Estate.

It comes after HES, which disposed of NHS waste, allowed amputated limbs, infectious liquids, material linked to cancer treatment and hazardous pharmaceutical waste to build up in huge stockpiles.

The Health Service Journal revealed that excess waste, including human body parts, reached 350 tonnes at the firm's facility in Normanton, West Yorkshire - five times more than the company's 70-tonne limit.

And Health Minister Stephen Barclay has revealed there are also concerns about the firm's Newcastle site. He told the House of Commons that the Environment Agency had "partially suspended" the company's permit at its Normanton site, preventing it from accepting any more waste for incineration. He added: "The Environment Agency is also progressing with enforcement action at the other non-compliant sites.

"This includes following up the first enforcement notice for the HES Newcastle site. If the site does not become compliant, the likely next stage is a partial suspension to prevent the acceptance of incinerator only waste at Newcastle.

A criminal inquiry into the firm's behaviour has been launched and the Government's emergencies committee has held a meeting to discuss the waste backlog.

It also emerged that the firm had been stripped of contracts by 15 NHS trusts, mostly in Yorkshire.

Mr Barclay said that the Government was first aware of concerns in July. He said: "On July 31, the Environment Agency notified central Government of an issue concerning clinical waste collection and disposal for hospitals and other public services provided by HES. In this instance, the primary concern was that too much waste was being held in a number of waste storage and treatment sites by HES.

"While the waste was stored securely, it was not being processed and disposed of within the correct regulatory timescales. At no point has there been an impact on public health or any delay to the ability of the NHS to carry out operations."

Labour MPs demanded to know why the public was not told about the problems sooner.

HES has previously denied any wrongdoing and insisted that all clinical waste is correctly stored, with anatomical waste kept in refrigerated units.

"HES has never stockpiled hundreds of tonnes of human body parts and dangerous waste at any of our sites" a statement on Friday said.

"The amount of anatomical waste we collect in England each week only amounts to 1% of the overall tonnage of waste collected."

The firm said it had "welcomed" Environment Agency visits, and has pointed out that the amount of waste produced by the NHS for incineration "far outweighs the entire incineration capabilities of the UK".

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2018
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