Body parts still remain at an “abandoned” North Tyneside site at the heart of a human waste scandal – almost a year after Chroniclelive broke the original story.
And the shocking findings emerged after two men were accused of burgling the premises last week.
Last October we told how Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) built up stockpiles of body parts and other medical waste and was ordered to dispose of the stored material.
It was reported to have allowed amputated limbs, infectious liquids, material linked to cancer treatment and hazardous pharmaceutical waste to build up in huge stockpiles.
Sites where there were concerns included the firm’s facility on a North Tyneside Industrial Estate.
Later the Environment Agency confirmed HES were in breach of environmental permits at six sites nationwide, and took out a “criminal investigation”.
But since then the firm has gone into liquidation and the building is locked up.
On September 7 police received a report of a break-in to the building on Chollerton Drive in Longbenton.
They arrested two men who had to be decontaminating by the Fire Brigade due to the hazardous materials on the premises.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Shortly after 9.35am on September 7, police received a report of a break-in at Healthcare Environmental on Chollerton Drive, Longbenton.
“A report came in following an alarm activation and officers attended, however, due to hazardous materials on the premises the Fire Service were also called to assist officers and two arrests were made at the scene.
“Barry Watson, aged 35, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on September 9, charged with burglary where he was remanded into custody until his next appearance on October 18.
“Jamie Pollard, aged 29, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on September 9, charged with burglary where he was remanded into custody until his next appearance on October 18.”
A Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman confirmed firefighters had to decontaminate two men. She said: “Our firefighters are highly skilled in managing a ranging of incidents, including dealing with hazardous and chemical materials. This obviously involves decontamination, where following our set procedures we respond to minimise the impact of any potential contamination.”
Since the break-in the Environment Agency and the police have provided advice to the liquidator, BDO LLP accountancy and advisory services, about site safety. And it is believed there is now 24 hour security at the building.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Healthcare Environmental Services repeatedly breached environmental permits at its sites and operated unlawfully. We continue with our criminal investigation and are working with the liquidator to advise on clearance of the waste.
“The waste remains on the HES Ltd clinical waste site at the North Tyneside Industrial Estate at Longbenton and we continue to inspect the facility to assess for possible environmental impacts.”
He added that the site “does not currently present an environmental or public health risk as the waste is stored indoors or in trailers.”
Last year, the Health Service Journal revealed that excess waste including human body parts reached 350 tonnes at the firm’s facility in Normanton, West Yorkshire, five times more than the company’s 70 tonne limit.
And former Health Minister Stephen Barclay revealed then there were also concerns about the firm’s Newcastle site.
He also said they were aware of the body parts backlog since July 2018.
HES issued redundancy notices to staff at Christmas and a request for a comment at the time was met with an automated message stating that the firm had ceased trading.
But it has previously denied any wrongdoing and insisted that all clinical waste is correctly stored, with anatomical waste kept in refrigerated units.
A spokesman for liquidators BDO LLP said: “Healthcare Environmental Services Limited entered into liquidation on 25 April 2019 and BDO LLP were appointed as liquidators.
“Following a break in at the facility, existing security measures were increased at the site after consultation with the police.”
HES could not be reached for comment.
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