DENR: 4 Bulacan hospitals' hazardous, infectious waste poses great risk to public

April Rafales, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2019 10:06 PM

MANILA -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has conducted a preliminary investigation on 7 district hospitals mentioned in a Commission on Audit (COA) Annual Report for 2018, for the irregular collection of “hazardous and infectious” waste from them which exposed patients, health workers, and the public to danger.

In a phone interview, outgoing Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said the COA report is old and the issues have already been addressed.

“Nagkaroon ng kaunting problema noong nakaraang taon but as early as this year, wala na iyon, we are collecting our garbage religiously,” he said.

In the investigation conducted by the DENR on March this year, the Bulacan Medical Center, Rogaciano M. Mercado Memorial Hospital, and Emilio G. Perez Memorial District Hospital were found to be compliant.

However, Environment Secretary Benny Antiporda said the Baliuag District Hospital, Calumpit District Hospital, and San Miguel District Hospital were problematic. 

“Medyo deteriorating na yung kanilang proseso and yung storage facility nila kung kaya't it needs improvement na,” he said.

“Itong Gregorio del Pila District Hospital talagang hindi nakapasa sa standard ng DENR wherein yung storage facility nila talagang may problema na. It means this will pose great risk sa mga tao sa vicinity ng hospital na ito,” he added.

Antiporda said hospitals’ storage facilities should follow standards set by the the DENR, such as the size and distance of the waste vaults from the wards, proper sealing of used medical items, and the daily collection of waste should be strictly followed to avoid accumulation or exposure to patients of waste.

Sy-Alvardo said there was a problem with environmental compliance certificates, which caused a temporary delay in the collection of hospital garbage in the past year.

However, Antiporda said there still seems to be a problem as garbage is not being collected on daily. “Nakita natin na mukhang mayroong problema yung service provider, yung Cleanway Environmental Management Solutions Incorporated, wherein mukhang mayroong hindi maayos sa kanilang contract between the provincial government kasi provincial government ang kumuha sa kanila kung kaya’t nagkakaroon ng problema sa collection.”

The DENR will issue a notice of violation to four non-compliant hospitals and give them enough time to correct their problem, and the issue will also be referred to the Pollution Adjudication Board which will decide on the fine and penalties to be imposed.

ABS-CBN News has reached out to the Department of Health about the matter but Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said they do not have information on the issue yet.