Hundreds of tons of human body parts and surgical waste have been stockpiled by a disposal company contracted by the UK’s National Health Service, according to the Health Services Journal, citing leaked documents.
The NHS documents reveal that Healthcare Environment Services Ltd. allowed human waste, including amputated limbs and waste linked to cancer treatment, to build up to unsustainable levels due to a lack of incineration capacity, the journal reported. The government confirmed to CNN that the waste had not been processed or disposed of in a timely fashion by Healthcare Environment Services and that it was working on contingency plans for alternative disposal arrangements.
Healthcare Environment Services has been monitored closely since the UK’s Environment Agency notified the government of the issue in late July.
The government emphasized that anatomical waste is a small portion of the what is stored by Healthcare Environment Services and that the Environment Agency has been working with the company to ensure that it is kept in refrigerated units within the confines of facilities.
“There is absolutely no risk to the health of patients or the wider public,” a government spokesperson told CNN.
“Our priority is to prevent disruption to the NHS and other vital public services and work is underway to ensure organizations can continue to dispose of their waste safely and efficiently.”
Healthcare Environment Services told CNN in a statement that it is working to reduce the volume of waste, adding that the UK’s aging incineration facilities are in part to blame for the buildup.
“Over the last year, this reduced incineration capacity has been evident across all of the industry and has affected all companies. Healthcare Environmental has been in discussion with the environmental regulators and has consistently highlighted these issues,” the firm said.
“HEG is dedicated to resolving this issue, as and when incineration capacity becomes available,” it added.