After a long wait, stage set for biomedical waste disposal

K.V. Prasad

COIMBATORE: After a long wait, safe disposal of biomedical waste is set to begin here. There are signs of the common disposal facility beginning operations by early next month after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) allows a trial, reviews its result and clears the project.

The firm says that the entire infrastructure required for the purpose is ready. The incinerator with two burners, an autoclave and shredder have been installed at the four-acre site at Orattukuppai on the city outskirts. Landfill facility (for deep burial of some types of waste) has also been provided.

Vehicles with leak proof containers have also been procured. The firm has submitted applications for the "consent of operation" and the process of scrutiny of various aspects is on, its sources say. Human anatomical waste will be burnt at 1050 degrees Celsius in two chambers of the incinerator. A quench column will bring down the temperature after incineration and a scrubber will prevent ash from escaping through the 100 ft chimney. Only "purified exhaust gas" will be let out through it. Ash will be disposed of through landfill method. The incinerator has a spray mechanism that will wash away fine particles of ash. The water will then be collected in a sump and then let into an effluent plant for treatment. And, treated water can be used for gardening on the premises or reused in the operations.

The autoclave will disinfect metal, plastic, glass and waste sharps at 145 degrees Celsius. Each batch of waste will be treated for 30 minutes for disinfection and then shredded. While landfill is the only available method of disposal of shredded waste, options for recycling of disinfected waste materials such a plastics are being explored.

Waste from 250 medical institutions, including corporate hospitals, will be cleared at Rs.2.50 per bed per day. Stating that 90 per cent of the hospitals in Coimbatore District and Sathyamangalam in Erode District have joined the scheme, the sources say there are signs of the rest coming in during the second phase.

Coimbatore Corporation has already indicated that once the scheme takes off, there will be close monitoring of waste disposal by hospitals. Last month, the Mayor, T. Malaravan, asked them to use the civic body's incinerator at Chokkampudur and not to dump hazardous waste in the open.