United Kingdom starts criminal investigation after body parts pile up

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He said the breaches relate to the company having more waste on its sites than its permits allow and storing waste inappropriately.

Healthcare Environment Services is understood to have been monitored closely since the Environment Agency notified the government of the issue in late July.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said there is "absolutely no risk" to public health.

Cars are parked outside Healthcare Environmental's headquarters in Northern Britain, near Shotts, Scotland October 5, 2018.

The contractor, Healthcare Environmental Services, is required to remove medical waste, however in this case, waste of a significant number was not completely removed from hospitals in England and Scotland.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that amputated limbs and pharmaceutical waste were among the matter which had been allowed to mount up.

With pressure building on the government, the Labour MP Yvette Cooper asked why parliament had not been told that the health secretary, Matt Hancock, chaired a Cobra committee meeting last month amid concern about a potential health hazard over the firm's failure to get rid of the waste.

The government emphasized that anatomical waste is a small portion of the what is stored by Healthcare Environment Services and that the Environment Agency has been working with the company to ensure that it is kept in refrigerated units within the confines of facilities.

The Environment Agency said: 'We are taking enforcement action and have launched a criminal investigation'.

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"Our priority is to prevent disruption to the NHS and other vital public services and work is underway to ensure organizations can continue to dispose of their waste safely and efficiently". HES claim there has been "reduced incineration capacity" in the United Kingdom over the a year ago.

The Environment Agency has taken a range of action with the company to bring their sites back into compliance but they have repeatedly breached permits and continued to operate unlawfully.

A United Kingdom government spokesman said it was monitoring the situation closely and had made sure that public services - including NHS Trusts - had contingency plans in place.

The offending sites are not accessible to the general public and there is no risk to public health or the environment. All Scottish NHS hospitals are serviced by the company.

Healthcare Environment Services said the United Kingdom had experienced "reduced incineration capacity" over the previous year, which it had repeatedly highlighted to authorities.

A spokesman added: "This is down to the ageing infrastructure, prolonged breakdowns and the reliance on zero waste to landfill policies, taking up the limited high-temperature incineration capacity in the market".

There is industry wide agreement that overall there is sufficient incineration capacity.

The affected sites included a plant at Normanton - in Cooper's constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford - where the waste was reported to have been five times more than HES's permitted level. The company is in breach of its environmental permits at five of its six sites and had its permit suspended at one of its locations which has the biggest pile-up.

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