Hundreds of tonnes of clinical waste piled at Scottish sites

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham says up to 300 tonnes of clinical waste has stockpiled at two Scottish HES sites
Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham says up to 300 tonnes of clinical waste has stockpiled at two Scottish HES sites
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Up to 300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste has piled up at the Scottish sites of a disposal company, MSPs have heard.

Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) ceased trading after being caught up in a row over stockpiling medical waste with the NHS last year, laying off hundreds of workers last month.

Scotland’s environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham told Holyrood the best available evidence suggests a backlog of between 250 and 300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste at Scottish HES sites in Dundee and Shotts, North Lanarkshire.

READ MORE: Clinical waste from Scottish health boards shipped to Shetland

She said the anatomical waste is mainly at the firm’s site in Shotts and will need a specialist team for packing and loading, which may take several days.

HES has previous denied claims human body parts were among waste stockpiled at its sites.

Ms Cunningham told MSPs: “A current estimate of the total clearance and disposal costs is around £250,000, but I’m conscious these are estimates. These are not fixed figures.”

She disclosed the information in response to questions from Labour’s Monica Lennon, saying there was also an additional contingency cost.

The environment secretary continued: “Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) has been closely monitoring and inspecting the HES sites in Dundee and Shotts, including weekly inspections since December to ensure they comply with relevant environmental legislation.

“Enforcement notices were issued to HES in September and December 2018. However, further scrutiny has established that the company has not fully met the requirements of notices.

“Subsequently Sepa has commenced an investigation to establish if criminal offences have been committed.

“Sepa has also robustly reviewed the contingency arrangements in place at affected NHS sites to ensure all regulatory requirements are met and will continue to monitor all the affected sites to ensure the environment and local communities remain safeguarded.”

HES was thought to have employed 150 people in Shotts and 350 elsewhere across the UK.

The firm previously had contracts with the NHS in England and Scotland.

Staff formerly employed by HES have said 350 people have not been paid since 28 November. Many have had to turn to food banks after being made redundant last month.

HES chief Garry Pettigrew previously claimed he was “still fighting” for the workers.