CBRM may lose biomedical waste business

Halifax company will conduct trial to chemically disinfect, shred hospital trash

By Brian Flinn
CB Post headline from Daily News
Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004

Nova Scotiaís bio-medical waste could be bound for the Halifax Regional Municipality landfill instead of a Cape Breton incinerator.

Bio-Safety Management Inc. has Environment and Labour Department approval for a two-week trial in May to chemically disinfect and shred hospital trash, turning everything from coffee cups to body parts into an inert, confetti-like substance.

The company is related to Medic Delivery Services Ltd., the Dartmouth firm that currently trucks 2,800 tonnes of bio-medical waste each year to the Sydney incinerator. "Iím keeping my fingers crossed. The pilot project is really going to tell," said Peter Caldarozzi, the president of both the waste treatment and trucking companies.

If it works, the trial could lead to a change in the permit at the Otter Lake landfill near Timberlea, and could cost the Sydney incinerator an important contract. Caldarozzi said his company isnít trying to take business away from Cape Breton Regional Municipality, but many incinerators in North America have closed because of pollution.

"Iím not sure where the future of the Cape Breton incinerator is going, but I know where the rest have gone," he said yesterday.

Medical trash from most of the province has been going to Cape Breton for about six years. An incinerator at the QEII Health Sciences Centre shut down in 1997 after neighbours complained about toxins spewing over surrounding homes.

The trial will take place at a Burnside transfer station where Medic Delivery collects trash bound for the Cape Breton burner.

Environment spokesman John Perkins said the government insisted on no liquid discharges and full air filtering, but does not consider the May trial to be high risk. Trash treated during the trial will go to the incinerator rather than a landfill.

The chemical-physical destruction technique is already being used in Indiana and Great Britain. If it succeeds in killing pathogens here, Bio-Safety will be free to apply for a full permit.

The bio-medical waste disposal contract is due to expire next year. Caldarozzi said he hopes his process will be cheaper than sending five truckloads to the incinerator each week. He plans to find a private landfill to take the trash, which will be reduced in volume by about 90 per cent. "Iím hoping it goes to Otter Lake," he said.

Terry Henley, the chairman of the citizensí monitoring committee at the Halifax landfill near Timberlea, said Bio-Safety Management would have to seek the approval of area residents as well as the provincial government. "Nothing should be happening at Otter Lake out of the ordinary without our knowing in advance," Henley said. "We have always considered ourselves to have the power of veto."

Perkins said the government will consider allowing bio-medical waste at Otter Lake if Caldarozzi meets federal guidelines and can reach a deal with the Mirror Group, which owns the landfill.