Because the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) lists Ebola as a Category A infectious substance, waste material related to the disease has more stringent requirements for labeling, packaging, transportation and security. The Washington-based NW&RA said in a news release it is working with the DOT, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to develop procedures for removing and treating those materials.
“Both the healthcare waste industry and the municipal solid waste industry are well-situated to safely manage waste materials from Ebola patients,” said Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of NW&RA. “They will be prepared to continue to ensure public health through the proper management of this material.”
The PHMSA issued on Oct. 3 a special permit for the safe handling and transport of Ebola-contaminated waste generated in Dallas. The permit is specific to handling of the waste generated for the patient in Dallas and is limited in a variety of ways, including a geographic restriction within Texas and an expiration date of Nov. 30.
The NW&RA is working with the DOT to ensure proper waste handling of any future U.S. Ebola cases. The PHMSA has issued a guidance document to help waste haulers understand the packaging, handling and transportation requirements of Ebola waste.
Under the guidelines, healthcare waste companies can apply for “non-site-specific” special permits to ensure that healthcare facilities and state, local and federal authorities have the ability to safely package, handle, and transport for disposal any accumulation of Category A waste.
After treatment, the waste is no longer considered regulated medical waste. However, to confirm that the material was treated, a hauler must obtain a Certificate of Treatment from the treatment facility.
In general, municipal solid waste landfills may accept treated waste. Depending on the state, some landfills may need to obtain approval prior to acceptance of the material. Also, some states may require that the treated waste be covered immediately with soil.
The NW&RA has created three resources for members and others to obtain Ebola information. It has established a page on its website for frequently asked questions about Ebola-related waste. It will brief members this week on the new transportation permit process, and it is presenting a webinar on the topic Oct. 16. The PHMSA also is providing more information.