COA flags hazardous dumping of wastes by 5 hospitals

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has discovered improper handling and disposal of used laboratory and surgical supplies as well as human waste in at least five devolved hospitals in the province of Pangasinan.

The COA warned these hospitals of potential biological health hazards.

The hospitals are located in Alaminos City, San Carlos City, Mangatarem, Tayug and Lingayen.

Based on last year's audit report of Pangasinan released just recently, waste generated by the first four hospitals are collected by the municipal or city governments where they are located while those of the Lingayen District Hospital are handled by the provincial government.

The audit team noted that infectious wastes such as vials, needles, ampules, used gloves and IV (intravenous) lines and the like were not regularly disposed of through a transport facility but were stored at infectious waste storage area/chamber and some were disposed of in septic vaults.

“Placenta and pathological wastes were disposed of in the placenta pit. Inquiry from the pollution control officers revealed that there was no accredited transporter that will collect, transport and dispose properly the infectious wastes generated by the hospitals,” the report added.

The province of Pangasinan has submitted a 10-year Provincial Solid Waste Management Plan in compliance with RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The province declared its vision to have “residents and visitors enjoy a clean, litter-free, green, beautiful and healthful community.”

However, the COA discovered that it has failed to put up the required materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to segregate bio-degradable from non-bio-degradable/non-recyclable waste.

It was also found that the province  has no sanitary landfill of its own for the permanent disposal of garbage generated by residents and establishments.

The absence of landfill resulted in an agreement and contract with the Metro Clark Waste Management (MCWM) Corporation to dump its trash for P850 per ton at the landfill located in Clark Special Economic Zone (sub-zone D) in Capas, Tarlac.

The contract expired on December 31, 2019 but was subject for renewal.

State auditors noted the contract with MCWM is at best a temporary solution to a continuing problem.

“In case the disposal agreement is revoked or failed to be renewed for any cause or reason, unattended or improperly disposed solid waste could be a threat to the environment and health hazard to the public in general,” the COA warned.