Back In May of 2013, Walmart plead guilty to criminal charges of dumping hazardous waste in California across 16 of its counties. This resulted in Walmart having to pay 82 million in fines for the illegal dumping of fertilizer and other hazardous wastes. The occurrence of the actual actions took place between the years 2003 through 2005. Apparently workers were not educated on how to identify potential hazardous waste. Ultimately the whistle blew and Walmart got smacked with a hefty fine because of waste disposal negligence.
On July 28, 2017 in Elmira, NY, the Chemung County Transfer Station was undergoing an inspection by the DEC. Reports of human remains and other medical waste that were dump there prompted the sudden closure and two day inspection by the DEC. Medical waste disposal going through a standard waste transfer station is dangerous and could pose a health risk to anyone whom come in contact with it.
In a best case scenario, if what occurred at the Chemung County Transfer Station is proven to be a one time occurrence there is still going to an investigation looming over the counties head. This means that OSHA will be on call at local hospitals and medical facilities making sure that medical waste is properly being disposed.
The Multi Million Dollar Question: So Why Do Hazardous Waste Crimes Happen?
First of all lets not underestimate the level of severity for the fact that its called a crime. Improperly disposal of this waste type is no less than operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The CDC estimates that 5.6 million workers in the health care industry and related occupations are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and others. Exposure to hazardous elements can be devastating on a much greater level than a DWI accident. One danger is contained while the other could lead to outbreak or results in numerous injuries for months and possibly years.
In most cases the reason why hazardous wastes are disposed is because of low level employees lack of knowledge on how to differentiate between safe and lethal elements. It should be protocal that anyone who potentially will interact with these items should carry a certification of being OSHA compliant. The reason as to why the fines are so great is show the severity of the violation. This will create an awareness in the community to get in line with the law or your at risk for an inspection. As the saying goes “negligence is bliss”.