Province optimistic new biomedical waste contract will soon be in place

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Tues., Nov. 22, 2005

Sydney - As the final days for the municipal incinerator draw near, the Nova Scotia government is optimistic it will sign a new biomedical waste contract by December. "Everything is going as expected," said Sherri Aikenhead, spokesperson for the provincial Health Department. "We'll be starting the new process in December as planned."

Aikenhead said the new contractor Medical Waste Management Inc. is in the process of completing environmental and regulatory requirements. "We're optimistic," said Aikenhead.

More details about the contract will be announced in December.

Medical Waste Management Inc. was the province's second choice following the original tendering process.

The winner, Medic Delivery Inc., a Dartmouth courier company, failed to meet several deadlines in the initial agreement prompting the province to pull out. Negotiations with Medical Waste Management of Brampton, Ont., began in June.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality's incinerator, located on Grand Lake Road in Sydney, handled the province's biomedical waste since 1997. The contract, which will end with the facility's closure Dec. 31, was valued at $1 million annually.

The municipality has come under fire for not meeting provincial emission limits for dioxins and furans. Most recently, during stack test results taken in June, the levels of dioxins and furans were more than double the province's allowable limit.

The Department of Environment and Labour instructed the municipality to repeat its stack test emissions after failing an annual two-week test burn in June 2004.

The additional testing followed modifications totalling $10,000 aimed at improving dioxin and furan emissions. Although the work did improve outcomes slightly, emission samples taken in June showed the stacks still emitted 171 picograms per metre cubed of dioxins and furans instead of the allowable limit of 80 picograms.

Adele Poirier, spokesperson for the Environment Department, said the facility can continue to operate but the department is asking the municipality to confirm the incinerator is closing by Dec. 31. There was no decision to close the incinerator when the second round of testing was requested by the department.