BMC liable for improper disposal of medical waste

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio Medical Center (BMC) is blaming its contractor for dumping their medical wastes along Marcos Highway that ended up polluting a creek but the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) maintains that the hospital is still liable.

Diretor Reynaldo Digamo of the EMB said BMC is still liable being the source of the waste that polluted the creek. “BMC has primary responsibility as the generator of the hospital waste,” he said.

Dr. Jennifer Balatian, medical director of the Baguio Medical Center said during the technical conference of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that they are developing a new parking lot when their contractor hauled out syringes and other hospital wastes along with soil excavated from the work site.

She explained that the road widening project of the Department of Public Ways and Highways (DPWH) affected the existing parking lot of the hospital so management decided to build another parking area to accomodate the needs of doctors and patients.

Balatian said that the contractors were told to be careful with the excavation because the old hospital waste dump is underneath the work area. She added that the contractor did not inform them where the soil and hospital wastes were dumped.

“We relied on the contractor to secure all the necessary permits and for the proper disposal of the material hauled from the excavation site,” Balatian said.

Onofre Calam-ang, the contractor said he was not told about the hospital waste. “I was only told that there might be garbage in the area, I assumed it was the normal wastes not hospital wastes,” he said.

Calam-ang dumped the soil and medical wastes in three private lots along Marcos Highway in Barangay Taloy Sur, in Tuba town which were washed down to the creek during the rains.

Digamo said that based on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between BMC and the contractor, proper disposal of the hospital waste is not the responsibility of the contractor.

But Digamo said the contractor and even the lot owners are also liable for allowing the dumping of the hospital waste that polluted the creek.

BMC representatives admitted that they were not really certain where the old hospital waste dump was located.

Digamo said that all the more the BMC should have closely monitored the excavation to ensure that the hospital waste will not be dug up.

“Diligence is more demanded in that particular situation because you are not certain of the exact location of the ‘burial pit’,” Digamo told the BMC representatives.

Engineer Nestor Donaal, chief of the EMB Clearance and Permitting Division said that a burial pit is simply the burying and sealing of (the dump facility) medical wastes which was allowed then before the issuance of the joint Department Administrative Order 2 of the Department of Health and Department of Environment and Natural Resources sometime in 2005.

BMC utilized their burial pit from 1999 to 2005. # nordis.net

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