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More than 3,000 tons of medical waste have been leaked into the open market and a portion of it could have been remade into toys and cutlery, according to a police investigation in east China’s Jiangsu Province made public on Monday.
The local prosecutors have pressed charges against three suspects after a three-month police investigation. The trio was arrested on suspicion of illegally processing medical waste, according to the Xiandaikuaibao newspaper, an outlet of China’s state Xinhua News.
One suspect, a man surnamed Zhang, was caught in a recent police raid with 13.5 tons of potentially biologically contaminated waste - including used needles and infusion tubes - on site, the newspaper reported.
A later search showed “Zhang had collected and sold over 3,000 tons of medical waste that were estimated worth more than 40 million yuan (5.7 million US dollars).”
Local law enforcement began to investigate the potential offense in August, after claims from local residents at Gujia Village in Nanjing that an “unbearable smell had been emitting from the local recycling station where a great deal of medical waste was stored,” noted the newspaper.
The investigation revealed that Zhang had been buying medical waste from several local hospitals since 2012, before packing up the plastic waste to be re-processed as “raw material.”
The report didn’t name the hospitals involved.
A middleman for Zhang, also surnamed Zhang, has also been arrested and charged. He admitted helping to sell the packed plastic waste to factories specializing in recycling the waste into “plastic grain.”
The “plastic grain” could be used to manufacture products such as toys and cutlery, the newspaper said.
According to Chinese law, medical waste must be sterilized and safely reshaped to neutralize its biological threat to the environment. Failure to de-contaminate the waste could result in criminal penalties.(news from CCTV news)