The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The non-existent recycled water barrier one - checks deficient on hospital waste ...

Worth revisiting.

The Australian:

Checks deficient on hospital waste

7 April 2009

Hospital waste in southeast Queensland was to be recycled as drinking water without the necessary approvals in place to ensure the water was not contaminated.

An audit by Queensland Health has found deficiences in the approvals for the disposal of wastes to the sewer in Brisbane's three biggest hospitals. A fourth, Ipswich Hospital, did not have an approval in place for its wastes.

The Queensland Water Commission has repeatedly assured the public that all approvals were operating for the disposal of hospital wastes to the sewer.

The approvals were designed to ensure that contaminants such as blood and cancer chemicals were prevented from being added to the mix to be recycled as drinking water.

The hospital approvals were faulty or non-existent at the time authorities planned to begin pumping recycled water to Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam in February. The Government deferred the plan after The Australian reported concerns by microbiologists that the seven-stage screening process may not be adequate to prevent contamination.

Premier Anna Bligh confirmed yesterday that the plan would proceed when dam levels dropped to 40 per cent; they are currently at 50 per cent.

The Government refused to release the Queensland Health audit report yesterday. However, a senior Queensland Health source said the audit raised serious concerns about the trade waste approval system at four major hospitals.

The audit covered Ipswich Hospital and, in Brisbane, the Prince Charles Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, and Princess Alexandra Hospital.

"Local councils are supposed to enforce these approvals but that has not been happening," the source said.

"Three hospitals did not have current trade waste contracts in place and one did not even have a trade waste approval.

"With recycled water on the way, this is the state of the management of hospital wastes. Nobody really knows what's being poured down the drains and it's not being monitored in any capacity."

Queensland Water Commission guidelines state that all hospitals must obtain a trade waste approval and have waste management plans in place. The guidelines say the safeguards would ensure contaminants such as unused pharmaceuticals, clinical waste, cytotoxic waste from cancer treatment, and radioactive wastes were disposed of appropriately and did not enter the sewer.

Queensland Health population health director Linda Selvey declined to be interviewed about the audit report but issued a statement to The Australian.

Dr Selvey admitted "shortcomings have been found" with waste approvals at the four hospitals and said action had been taken to deal with the situation.

"Despite some concern raised by the auditors in relation to possible inadequacies in the waste management practices in hospitals, the output from the advanced water treatment plant has consistently tested to be free of contaminants that could have come from hospitals," Dr Selvey said.

See - The Australian - Checks deficient on hospital waste.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Read it said...

The Qld Health audit report - Operational Audit of Handling, Storage and Disposal of Hazardous Liquid Wastes, February 2009 - is a good read. Interesting how it is classified confidential and warns that the unauthorised possession, reproduction and/or discussion of the information contained in this document is prohibited and may result in prosecution. While this may be a general warning used on departmental documents, it is extraordinary that the Queensland government seeks to prevent even any discussion of issues relating to recycled water and waste and proposes to prosecute anyone who discusses it. Talk about paranoid about controlling the information about recycled water. It's no wonder that people are sceptical about the whole process when the government tries to keep secret any adverse information about what waste is getting into the system. Prosecute people for discussing it - ridiculous.

Read the report if you can. It's illuminating. It has now been released under FOI laws. It confirms what was published in the Australian in April. There is no formal monitoring and recording system for waste disposed into the sewers. The volume and concentration of waste discharges to the sewers is unknown. Guidance on the types and concentrations of liquid waste which may be put down the sewers is vague and open to significant interpretation and not tailored to the liquid waste generated by hospitals. There is no accountability within facilities for what is poured down the sewers. For shared facilities, Qld Health can't see what is disposed down the sewers and has no jurisdiction to control what is poured into them.

It's no wonder the Queensland government marked this as confidential.

This report was finished in February this year. How long has the government been telling us about the safety of recycled water and that barrier 1 is effective to stop hospital and trade waste getting into the system? At least since 2005, in the case of the Toowoomba City Council and a year or so later in the case of the Queensland Water Commission..

This was either a blatant lie or complete incompetence by the government. You choose.

It is clear that all the PR by the Queensland Water Commission was misleading and deceptive. Just imagine if this was a private company trying to get away with the type of information scam the Queensland government has undertaken. The government would be dragging them through the courts.

Add to this the current criminal prosecution over corruption involving a hospital trade waste testing contract and you start to get a picture of how things operate within the Queensland government.

It is little wonder that the public has no confidence in the government having the public's best interests at heart.

12:25 PM, August 30, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Anna said there was no hospital waste in her recycled sewage!
We all know that was a lie.

3:14 PM, August 30, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only was it a lie but they wanted to keep any information about it secret.

3:41 PM, August 30, 2009

 

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