Hospitals in Varna spew over 200 tons of hazardous waste a year – No one knows where and how it is processed.
In 2012, health facilities in Varna generated more than 202 tons of hazardous waste. According to the City of Varna’s Municipal Development Plan, in recent years hazardous waste has been generated in small quantities but from many sources – a significant number of individual and group medical and dental care practices. In 2011, the number of medical establishments controlled by the RHI was 1356.
It is currently unclear how many of the health care facilities have systems in place to collect and dispose of biomedical and medical waste. As a result of the lax organisation and control system, in recent years there have been more and more publications about disposal of bags of hazardous medical waste in garbage containers. Such a practice is particularly risky in view of the dangers it poses to the atmosphere and to human health.
The fact that waste from healthcare and veterinary medicine is classified as hazardous in itself defines it as a threat to human health and the environment.
Observations carried out in healthcare facilities in various countries show that biomedical and medical waste contains just under 10% of materials that can be considered ‘potentially infectious’.
Experts are adamant that, with appropriate segregation, the proportion of infectious waste can be reduced to 1-5 per cent of all waste generated in healthcare facilities.
The problem on the territory of Varna and the country is the lack of organisation and modern facilities for safe processing of medical waste.
With the accession of our country to the EU in 2007, 42 incineration plants for waste from medical institutions, better known as garbage dumps, were decommissioned. The reasons for their closure – failure to meet regulatory requirements. Currently the only working hospital waste incinerator is in Sofia. It has a capacity of 400 kg/hour for solid waste and 100 litres for liquid waste. There are plans to build three incineration systems for hazardous hospital waste – in the cities of Varna, Plovdiv and Pleven. There are also plans to implement regional plants for sterilisation of infectious waste in Stara Zagora and Blagoevgrad, but these projects have not yet been implemented.
Worldwide trends are ketogyric that incinerators should be consigned to history, as they reduce the amount of garbage by about 70% and the remaining 30% is highly toxic ash, and give way to new modern and safe technologies for treating this type of hazardous waste.
The only opportunity for hospitals to build modern hazardous waste disposal systems is with projects under European programmes. So far, however, there is no text in the accession treaty that allows this. It is therefore necessary for all state institutions to make efforts to include an option allowing the financing of such projects both in the contract and in the Operational Programme “Regions in Growth”.
The old hazardous hospital waste disposal systems have three modern alternatives:
Autoclaving or steam sterilisation – waste is exposed to saturated steam under pressure in a steam boiler or autoclave
Microwave disinfection – applying a high-energy electromagnetic field over the waste in closed containers at atmospheric pressure and temperatures below the normal boiling point of water
Chemical disinfection – treatment of waste with chemical substances that have antimicrobial properties.