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EPA fines Tasmanian veterinary hospital for illegal disposal of controlled surgery waste

​The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined a Tasmanian veterinary hospital a total of $4,890 for the incorrect disposal of a quantity of contaminated veterinary items (controlled waste), which escaped from inappropriate storage bins into a public place in January of this year.

The controlled waste included bloodied surgical materials, used equipment, animal tissue and medications, was not stored or disposed of in accordance with the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Waste Management) Regulations 2010.

Members of the public alerted Tasmania Police to the incident on 26 January. Police officers attended the site before contacting the veterinary hospital, requiring the responsible persons ‘to recover, store and dispose of the waste appropriately’.

The EPA issued two Environmental Infringement Notices against the veterinary hospital under the Waste Management Regulations. These were for causing or permitting a controlled waste to be disposed of in a manner that is reasonably likely that the waste will escape into the environment; and for not disposing of the waste in accordance with an environmental approval or approved management method.

EPA Director Wes Ford said that the veterinary hospital had cooperated with the EPA during its investigation, and had undertaken a plan to correct and tighten their procedures for waste storage and disposal.

“This may be an isolated case of poor veterinary hospital practice for the removal and disposal of controlled waste, or it may be more widespread,” Mr Ford said.

“It came to light because the incident occurred on a public holiday. The bins were full and out for collection, it was a hot day, and the unsightly waste was clearly visible to people in a public space.

“That’s why I am taking this opportunity to remind all handlers of controlled medical and veterinarian waste about their responsibilities under the Waste Management Regulations,” he said.

“Companies that generate controlled waste have an obligation to understand the waste regulations, particularly those applying to the transport and disposal of these controlled wastes,” said Mr Ford.

For further information, please call or email the EPA on 6165 4159 or enquiries@epa.tas.gov.au or visit the EPA website at www.epa.tas.gov.au.