New fears of risks to health with dump­ing

Cyprus Today - - NEWS -

NEW fears were voiced this week over the po­ten­tial risk to hu­man health from the un­con­trolled dump­ing of rub­bish, in­clud­ing med­i­cal waste.

Remzi Gardiyanoğlu, head of the Pri­vate Doc­tors’ Union, re­it­er­ated con­cern that waste dis­posal work­ers could be at se­vere risk be­cause no pre­cau­tions were be­ing taken while mov­ing un­ster­ilised med­i­cal de­bris at the Güngör tip or at Le­fkoşa State Hospi­tal, where a unit in­tended to make the waste safe has been out of or­der for more than two years.

Pho­to­graphs pub­lished this week in Cyprus To­day’s sis­ter Turk­ish­language news­pa­per, Kıbrıs, showed bin bags full of waste from the hospi­tal piled in a lorry, with de­bris lit­ter­ing the ground and liq­uid seep­ing across the floor — go­ing on to trickle from the lorry through­out the route to Güngör.

Claims were also re­ported that one bin man had suf­fered a swollen leg and eye af­ter a used sy­ringe stuck in his leg while un­load­ing bags at the tip.

Dr Gardiyanoğlu said the prac­tice was a “huge scan­dal” that was putting local author­ity refuse col­lec­tion work­ers un­wit­tingly at risk of dis­eases in­clud­ing hep­ati­tis or even Aids. “It is very sad that in our coun­try no-one feels the need to take up and solve this im­por­tant is­sue. No-one is aware that they are play­ing with the health of mu­nic­i­pal work­ers, who don’t know what they are col­lect­ing, [even though] we have vis­ited the may­ors and told them of the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.”

Cyprus To­day re­vealed more than three years ago that med­i­cal waste from the coun­try’s hos­pi­tals and clin­ics was be­ing dumped in land­fill be­cause an EU-funded sterli­sa­tion unit had bro­ken down just six months af­ter be­ing in­stalled.

Health Min­is­ter Filiz Besim an­nounced last month that EU funds would be used to buy a new unit, since it had been es­tab­lished that the bro­ken fa­cil­ity was be­yond re­pair. Asked to com­ment again this week, she con­firmed that the replacement would be in place “in a cou­ple of months”.

Dr Besim said she had “knew noth­ing” about a worker hav­ing been in­jured, but said she had al­ready met her Cab­i­net col­league for en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues to or­gan­ise train­ing for those who would man the new unit. Mean­while En­vi­ron­men­tal Engi­neers’ Cham­ber chair­man Doğuş Vey­sioğlu claimed rub­bish dumped around the coun­try was “poi­son­ing” people by pol­lut­ing the soil and air and con­tam­i­nat­ing un­der­ground wa­ter re­serves.

Mr Vey­sioğlu said half of “more than 50” tip sites were “de­void of con­trol”, with an­i­mals also en­ter­ing and leav­ing to spread dis­ease, and fires break­ing out which gave off car­cino­genic smoke.

He claimed waste man­age­ment reg­u­la­tions which would force the clo­sure of all but the Güngör land­fill had yet to be ap­proved by gov­ern­ment. How­ever he warned that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties us­ing “trans­fer” sta­tions to hold waste be­fore trans­port­ing it to Güngör would not be able to stop the prac­tice un­der their ex­ist­ing in­come from clean­ing charges.

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