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EPA orders closure of medical waste incinerators at Guam Memorial Hospital

Release Date: 6/15/2004
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU -- In response to an order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority has shut down one of its medical waste incinerators and will soon shut down a second in order to meet federal Clean Air Act standards.

Guam Memorial Hospital Authority has agreed to comply with the EPA's order by ceasing to operate its incinerators and putting an alternative medical waste treatment method into place.

The first of two incinerators was shut down on May 18. The second incinerator was switched to emergency back-up status on June 11 and will be permanently shut down by Nov. 30. The EPA determined that both incinerators were violating the emissions standards set by the Clean Air Act.

"It is critical that medical waste incinerators meet all of the required emission standards to protect the public's health," said Deborah Jordan, the EPA's air division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Developing alternative medical waste treatment will further ensure clean air and proper disposal of medical waste for Guam's residents."

During the initial source tests, one of the incinerators violated the particulate matter, dioxins and furans, hydrogen chloride and lead emissions limits, while the second incinerator violated the particulate matter and hydrogen chloride emission limits. At that time, Guam Memorial Hospital Authority also failed to submit to the EPA the required waste management plan and necessary incinerator operating parameters and other required data for both incinerators.

In response to the order, Guam Memorial Hospital Authority has given the EPA a plan to transport all hospital, medical and infectious waste to a commercial medical waste treatment and disposal facility while the hospital develops an alternative waste treatment system.

The EPA's order also requires the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority to:

-provide to the EPA, a copy of its waste management plan which will include plans to separate solid waste from medical waste and other waste
minimization opportunities and;

-complete the shut down of both incinerators by Nov. 30 and complete final removal and proper disposal of the two incinerators by Dec. 30.

All medical waste incinerators need to be permitted and have the necessary air pollution controls to meet all Clean Air Act standards. Medical waste can be a source of pollution from the pathological and biological waste, along with any chemicals produced during incineration from plastics and other medical waste materials.
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