THE huge increase in disposable hospital refuse due to the COVID pandemic is causing severe storage and disposal problems.

In Valencia city, six refrigerated lorries loaded with 3,600 kilos each of gloves, masks, gowns and other PPE items are currently standing at Feria Valencia waiting for somewhere to dump the hazardous waste.

The situation is mirrored almost exactly at Alicante’s IFA conference and events hall.

Even before the third wave hit, the Clinico and General hospitals in the regional capital registered a backlog of 83,500 kilos of COVID-related rubbish that had nowhere to go, leading to huge bales of contaminated plastic being kept in fenced-off areas in car parks and surrounding streets last week.

At the moment there is only one plant in the Valencian Community authorised to dispose of this type of refuse, located in the Vall d’Uixo (Castellon).

But as hospitals and health centres are swamped by infectious rubbish, which is said to have doubled from 2,000 to 4,000 tonnes a year due to COVID, authorities are struggling to find alternative solutions.

One plan currently on the table is to reach an agreement with cement factories to use the processed and disinfected refuse as fuel.  

In addition, the regional Health department has revealed that a new treatment plant has been authorised in Buñol (Valencia), which is set to begin operating shortly.

Generalitat spokespeople insist that the storage problems registered at the two Valencia hospitals last week were ‘exceptional’ and that the government is working with the management to increase the storage capacity.

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