Anger over pol­lu­tion scan­dal record of firm lined up to step into the NHS waste cri­sis

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - John Fer­gu­son ■ Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

The com­pany lined up to solve Scot­land’s clin­i­cal waste cri­sis has been fined more than £500,000 for a se­ries of their own en­vi­ron­men­tal scan­dals.

Tradebe are set to re­place Health­care En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices (HES), who were axed after they were found stock­pil­ing tons of hu­man re­mains from hos­pi­tals.

About 350 work­ers at La­nark­shire-based HES were left pen­ni­less at Christ­mas fol­low­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of their NHS con­tract.

Manag­ing di­rec­tor Garry Pet­ti­grew has been crit­i­cised for fail­ing to pay re­dun­dant staff de­spite claims he raked in al­most £1mil­lion from health boards as re­cently as Oc­to­ber.

But the Sun­day Mail can re­veal that Trade be–the com­peti­tor com­pany be­ing brought in by the NHS to clean up the mess – also have a string of pol­lu­tion cases in their wake.

We have iden­ti­fied two se­ri­ous in­ci­dents that re­sulted in crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion for the firm in the UK.

And a “vi­o­la­tions tracker” web­site in Amer­ica lists 11 penalty records a mount­ing to £536,000 con­sist­ing of “work­place safety” and “en­vi­ron­men­tal” cases.

Labour health spokes­woman Mon­ica Len­non said: “I think the pub­lic will be sur­prised to learn that in the midst of the HES scan­dal, of­fi­cials had been work­ing to put a new agree­ment in place with an­other pri­vate com­pany who po­ten­tially also have a num­ber of con­cern­ing is­sues.

“I’m wor­ried that this is be­ing rushed through with­out the due dili­gence and with­out look­ing at what went wrong the last time around.

“We need to pause this whole process un­til Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man comes to Par­lia­ment andd ex­plains ex­actly what hasas gone wrong.

“Ob­vi­ously there is a duty in the short term to deal with­ith the back­log of med­i­cal waste that is now build­ing up and mea­sures need to be put in place im­me­di­ately to ad­dress that.

“But in the longer run, we need to get this right and we shouldn’t rule out tak­ing this con­tract back in-house with the NHS be­cause the pri­vate sec­tor has let us down badly.”

In 2016, Tradebe – headed by Barcelona-based chair­man Josep Creix­ell and CEO Vic­tor Creix­ell – were or­dered to pay £ 38,960 fol­low­ing a chem­i­cal leak ata their Hen­don Dock plant in Sun­der­land. The com­pany pled guilty to two of­fences of fail­ing to com­ply with an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­mit con­di­tion at the city’s mag­is­trates’ court after 4000 litres of iso­pro­phyl al­co­hol leaked from a tank. In an­other in­ci­dent, Trade­beTrade were pros­e­cuted for safety fail­ings which led to a ma­jor spillage of highly flammable liq­uid at a site in Knot­tin­g­ley, York­shire, in 2013. The firm were fined £ 3000 and or­dered to pay £ 2070 in costs after four tons of paint thin­ner con­tam­i­nated the area. Wake­field Mag­is­trates’ Court heard that em­ploy­ees at a Tradebe Sol­vent site in Knot­tin­g­ley were ex­posed to se­ri­ous risk as the liq­uid could have caught fire after the firm failed to halt traf­fic.

There have also been a num­ber of cases in Amer­ica where the firm have been hit with large fines over their en­vi­ron­men­tal record.

The US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) pro­posed a £ 411,000 set­tle­ment with Tradebe in De­cem­ber over al­leged en­vi­ron­men­tal vi­o­la­tions at the firm’s haz­ardous waste treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties in Con­necti­cut.

The pro­posed deal came after the EPA in­ves­ti­gated emis­sions from the plants and the set­tle­ment will also re­quire the firm to in­stall new con­trol sys­tems. In an­other

case, Tradebe sub­sidiary Nor­lite were also or­dered to pay around £15,000 over air pol­lu­tion vi­o­la­tions in Co­hoes, New York, in 2016.

The vi­o­la­tions tracker web­site lists 11 in­ci­dents where penal­ties have been im­posed rang­ing from £10,000 to £ 235,000. Tradebe are be­ing brought in to re­place HES after the Shotts firm were stripped of their con­tract over con­cerns waste wasn’t be­ing in­cin­er­ated.

The move re­sulted in hun­dreds of work­ers be­ing made re­dun­dant and left with­out wages over Christ­mas.

Many mi s sed mort ga ge pay­ments and have had to rely on food banks de­spite re­ports al­most £ 1mil­lion was taken in by the com­pany in Oc­to­ber be­fore the plug was pulled. Staff had not been able to claim cash from the Re­dun­dancy Pay­ment Ser­vice be­cause HES are not tech­ni­cally in liq­ui­da­tion. But the In­sol­vency Ser­vice have now said they’ l l pay statu­tor y re­dun­dancy to ex-HES work­ers.

A crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been launched in Eng­land after re­ports of waste pil­ing up first emerged in Oc­to­ber.

HES had the re­spon­si­bil­ity for dis­pos­ing from ev­ery hos­pi­tal, GP’s surgery, den­tal prac­tice and phar­macy in Scot­land but were told ear­lier this month the deal, un­der­stood to be worth up to £140mil­lion, would not be re­newed in April.

NHS Scot­land are e un­der­stood to have con­tracted Tradebe to take over at that point with an­other pri­vate f i rm stand­ing in un­til then. The Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency have also is­sued a string of en­force­ment no­tices about the stor­age of waste at HES yards in Dundee and Shotts.

NHS Na­tional Ser­vices Scot­land said they were fi­nal­is­ing the award of the new waste man­age­ment deal which will be­gin on April 1.

They added: “All con­tracts in NHS Scot­land are pro­cured in line with Scot­tish and Euro­pean re­quire­ments. We can’t com­ment fur­ther un­til the con­tract process has con­cluded.”

A spokes­woman for Tradebe de­clined to com­ment.

How­ever a source in­sisted the com­pany had a track record of op­er­at­ing in full com­pli­ance with strin­gent reg­u­la­tory stan­dards.

TOXIC Bags of clin­i­cal waste spill out of con­tainer and pile up in hos­pi­tal WASTE SCAN­DAL Pet­ti­grew and Len­non

FINES Josep Creixwell and Nor­lite logo

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