Burning Medical Waste Worries Sydney Resident

WebPosted May 5 2003 11:46 AM ADT
A woman in Sydney says the municipality's incinerator still isn't working properly, even after recent upgrades. The incinerator, which burns local garbage, burns all of Nova Scotia's hospital waste.

Unburned waste found in the ashes
(photos by Marlene Kane)

Marlene Kane complained about the incinerator a few years ago. A few weeks ago, she took pictures of the ash pile and discovered a syringe, hospital gowns and tubing. Kane's earlier complaints did lead to some upgrades, but she worries the incinerator still can't dispose of the waste from hospitals.

"We're still burning all of the province's biomedical waste in a facility that cannot safely and effectively handle this material," she said.

"It can't burn paper products and plastic products very well, so it certainly shouldn't be burning biomedical waste."

A spokesperson for the Environment Department in Sydney says he wasn't aware of Kane's latest complaint.

"We are certainly interested in having anyone who has a concern to bring it forward to our attention," said Aurelle Landry. "We can then investigate and determine what exactly is the issue and what needs to be done."

The province recently renewed its contract with the municipality to burn the medical waste for another two years.

Kane says the province was supposed to look into alternatives to burning the waste. That process is ongoing, according to a spokesperson with the Health Department.

Meanwhile, an official with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is downplaying concerns over the regional incinerator.
Paul Oldford, the manager in charge of solid waste, said the incinerator burns between 90 to 95 per cent of the waste, which is within industry standards. He also said the site is frequently inspected by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour.

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