The U.S. Veterans Administration Healthcare System, stemming from a 2005 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement action for hazardous waste violations, said Wednesday that it will institute a hazardous waste and chemicals management inventory system at all of its facilities in New England.
The system will use a software system that tracks chemical purchase, use, storage and disposal. It will allow the Veterans Administration (VA) to substitute potentially hazardous products with less hazardous alternatives. If it is successful at the facilities in New England, it may expand to cover additional locations.
The cost of the system is expected to be over $500,000. The VA will also pay a $49,748 fine.
“Developing a reliable system for hospitals to track hazardous wastes can have big impacts across the country by helping hospital directors reduce use of hazardous chemicals and reduce pollution,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. “By ensuring healthcare facilities better manage their hazardous chemicals and waste, EPA is advancing protection for patients, for the environment and for the community.”
According to the EPA, in 1998, hospitals were the fourth largest source of mercury discharged into the environment. Hospitals also produce other hazardous waste like chemotherapy and antineoplastic chemicals, solvents and formaldehyde, among others.
In New England, the VA has 9,000 employees at eight medical campuses. Nationally, it is the second largest federal agency, with a budget of $60 billion and 230,000 employees.
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