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Contraband Hospital Waste Returns to US

Brazil has sent 46.6 tons of contraband waste from American hospitals back to the U.S., Fox News reports.

Customs agents intercepted the container of waste along with 14 other containers of “suspicious” materials in October at the port of Suape in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Fox reports.

The hospital waste consists of used syringes, bedding, hospital masks and tubes bearing the logo of U.S. hospitals. All 15 of the containers originated from the same South Carolina exporter and were being sent to a textile company that Anvisa, Brazil’s health monitoring agency, suspects of violating national waste policy, Fox reports.

The contents of the shipment were listed as being defective cotton fabric, Fox reports.

In February last year, the EPA ordered two companies to properly dispose of computer waste they attempted to illegally export from Minnesota to Vietnam.

The EPA alleged that the companies attempted to export hundreds of computer monitors to Vietnam for disposal, through the Port of Seattle and imposed a $31,600 penalty against the companies for violating federal hazardous waste laws.

Picture credit: Eric Molina

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5 thoughts on “Contraband Hospital Waste Returns to US

  1. Concerning the hospital waste. I wonder if it could handled by a facility in the USA that uses microwave induced plasma gasification. The temperatures in the process chamber can reach up to 10,000 F, close to the surface of the sun. There must be a facility like this somewhere.

  2. Wastes can be categorized into profitable waste (e.g. scrap metal, paper, processed e-wastes, plastics, etc) and non-profitable waste (e.g. bio hospital waste, mercury containing lamps, un-processed e-wastes, etc). If it’s too good to be true, then it is. I suspect the hospital(s) wastes that was brokered and sent to Brazil got a great deal! And these hospitals lack Environmental, Health & Safety professionals to manage their EHS risks. As for how hospital wastes are treated, it is autoclaved and landfilled! It has not changed in 24 years, when I worked at a hospital and autoclaved the biohazard wastes!

  3. Sydney is right – autoclave / landfill practices for hospital waste have not changed in many years.

    However, I do know that more hospitals are working to divert non-hazardous household wastes that pose no danger through recycling, reuse and other programs. (Not to say that this is what is being reported in this story. But rather to say that it has been shown that hospitals and doctors offices spend an enormous amount of money to autoclave / landfill plastic parts and pieces that have only touched saline solution, or a patient’s ear, etc. Or equipment that can be reused with proper cleaning. Much of this can be profitably reclaimed. Environmentally conscious and/or cost-conscious hospitals are working to reduce their expensive and over-the-top handling of waste streams that do not require autoclave.

    Again, I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case … I have no idea.

    @BrookeBF fr @RecycleMatch

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