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Burning Bio-hazard Waste in San Antonio

Burning Bio-hazard Waste in San Antonio
January 25
07:18 2020

Burning Bio-hazard Waste in San Antonio

ON: Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Residents of San Antonio Village, Toledo are faced with a nuisance, and a potentially bio-hazardous environment, and they have spoken out against having a newly-operational medical incinerator burning hazardous waste material from the Isabel Palma Polyclinic as well as from the Punta Gorda Town Hospital in their village.

The matter came to light when the burning of the waste started on a hill in a section of the village not immediately close to the residences, but the villagers have protested having the incinerator there, claiming that the smoke pollutes the air that they breathe and having the incinerator there poses a threat of contaminating their ground water.

This week, Principal Public Health Inspector, John Bodden explained that the incineration at that location is not the ideal scenario, but that it meets World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Bodden compared the situation now to a few years ago when the PG Hospital’s disposal site was near the Moho River. The Ministry decided that was not the best location and then sought to have it relocated at the garbage disposal transfer station, but that too was not a good location because the area is waterlogged when it rains.

Their next choice was the available land that the San Antonio polyclinic had at the back, which is elevated and not close to ground water sources because of the hill on which it is located.

Bodden did admit that after a period of time the facility can pose a health risk, however. He said that all the biological components, which can cause infectious diseases, are destroyed. He said the most dangerous components to humans would be toxins that are not visible, such as dioxins and furans, but the amounts of those that emanate from the incineration are minimal. He explained that there was a recommendation to get an autoclave, which is a heated container used for chemical reactions and other processes using high pressures and temperatures, and a hydroclave – an elongated chimney through which the smoke emanates several feet into the air.

We spoke to a Ministry of Health official in the Southern region who told us that they chose the present location because it is where the incinerator will cause the least amount of damage, compared to the other two scenarios where it has been previously placed. The official explained that it will only be there temporarily and that there is joint collaboration among the Solid Waste Management Unit, the Ministry of Health and the Department of the Environment (DOE) to come up with an efficient way of disposing of bio-hazardous waste material to the mile 24 dump on the George Price Highway. This is where all waste matter from the six districts will be transferred for disposal. It will require the acquisition and installation of a costly system that will take a little while to bring on stream. We learnt that the $1.6 Million that is required to have the system in place is already available and it is just a matter for the three agencies to conclude their safety guidelines and to install the equipment at the location.

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