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Feb 23, 1998

Medical waste part of January shipment

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The eighty bags of medical waste tossed onto a residential lot off Coney Drive have now been properly disposed of… but there are still more questions than answers. Patrick Jones today continued his investigation.

Investigations into last week’s frightening discovery of medical waste in Coral Grove have revealed little answers as to how and why it happened and no firm guarantee that it won’t happen again. While admitting that the garbage originated from Belize Medical Associates, Chairman of the Company, Doctor Arleigh Gough believes that they are part of the same payload that ended up on Tibruce Street last month.

Dr. Arleigh Gough, Chairman, Belize Medical Associates

“Our samples and the waste disposal people have testified to this and have given us a letter signed, that they were there and saw the garbage being picked up and these samples have dates on them going back to December, which indicates that this is not fresh or recent garbage.”

Which points right back to the previous contractor Juan Molina who continues to argue that he can only accept responsibility for one load of medical waste that ended up in a residential area.

Dr. Arleigh Gough

“I mean we have the garbage that was dated during the time when he was contracted to dispose of that we are finding, and how many other people might be, I don’t know, we just have to hope and pray.”

P. J.

“While we hope and pray, there might be people out there exposed to some real dangers.”

Dr. Arleigh Gough

“I agree. I agree. They may be exposed to real dangers and we wouldn’t know and Mr. Molina can’t tell us because he reiterated on your show that he had only one incident that he is prepared to accept the responsibility for.”

Since the last incident in January, Medical Associates terminated Molina’s contract and has since hired Belize Waste Control to dispose of their garbage.

George Lamb, General Manager, Belize Waste Control

“We are responsible to collect certain types of waste from their compound and the medical waste derived from probably, waste generated from the theater and operating ward would be transported over here by medical associates personnel and we are responsible to incinerate that type of waste.”

But while a new arrangement may have been worked out, the City Council’s Sanitation Director Lawrence Ellis is not letting the clinic off the hook that easily.

Lawrence Ellis, Sanitation Director, Belize City Council

“By no means are we excusing the Belize Medical Associates, because in the first place, they should not have been contracting a gentleman who is not equipped with the equipment to move such medical waste. He agreed that they shouldn’t have done that, he apologized and reassured me that this incident will never occur again and that the one behind Coral Grove was definitely before the last time we had a problem.”

George Lamb

“It was obvious that majority of the material came from some medical lab operation. But for some reason Patrick, it appears that those waste was there for a long period of time and I don’t know what really happened, but it was done in an unprofessional manner.”

Until Mr. Molina comes forward to say how many other places around the city has been littered with bio-hazardous wastes Dr. Gough is appealing for the public’s support in identifying those sites. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

News Five was today unable to locate contractor Juan Molina or the trucker he subcontracted to dispose of the garbage, Vincent Francis.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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