Date
19 October 2017
A total of 240 discarded boxes containing diluents were found at a refuse collection point near Shek Yam Estate in Kwai Chung. Photo: Exploring Life via Wikimedia Commons
A total of 240 discarded boxes containing diluents were found at a refuse collection point near Shek Yam Estate in Kwai Chung. Photo: Exploring Life via Wikimedia Commons

EPD, FEHD taken to task over improper disposal of medical waste

Lam Siu-fai, a member of the Kwai Tsing District Council, slammed the government for its handling of medical waste fluids, saying dumping them into a storm drain was sloppy, Apple Daily reports.

Both the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the agencies responsible for the waste, insisted that the substance in question was not categorized as chemical waste, adding that there is no problem with the way it was handled.

Lam, who is from the Democratic Party, said he saw a total of 240 discarded boxes at a public refuse collection point near Shek Yam Estate, a public rental housing project in Kwai Chung.

The labels on the boxes showed the things inside were diluents used for medical purposes.

He said he then contacted the police, fire department, EPD and FEHD about his discovery and asked them to deal with the boxes. However, they did not act until two weeks later, Lam said.

Workers from a company outsourced by the FEHD finally came to dispose of the boxes on Monday night, but all they did was just to open them and dump the medical diluents in a nearby storm drain, which means the fluids ended up in the sea, Lam said.

The EPD said the main ingredients of the diluents were water, sodium chloride, anhydrous sodium sulfate, buffer solution, some antifungals and antibacterials and they can be quickly diluted by seawater.

The FEHD claimed the waste, following confirmation from the EPD, could be deemed as “general garbage”.

Although an EPD spokesman insisted staff were sent to the site on Tuesday morning to collect water samples for tests, Lam said he has never seen such sampling activities.

William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, said discharging the diluents into the sea was not acceptable.

The authorities should have ensured there were no antibiotics in the antifungals and antibacterials before doing so, Chui said.

Antifungals and antibacterials normally contain antibiotics, which may help drug-resistant bacteria grow and contaminate marine animals, sickening people who eat them, he added.

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TL/JC/CG

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