Veolia Environmental Services off Texas 73 will receive and begin destroying a shipment of medical waste from deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan’s apartment within the next eight to 10 hours, Mitch Osborne, Veolia Gulf Coast Branch Environmental Services general manager, said Thursday morning.
“The containers will contain disinfected waste from the apartment the patient was residing in,” Osborne said. “It’s something we can manage, and we know it’s going to draw a lot of attention because of the ‘E’ word. But we’re not bringing Ebola to Southeast Texas. We’re bringing waste products that have been packaged for our workers’ and our community’s safety.”
Osborne said the waste — strictly from the patient’s apartment, not from the hospital — was pre-treated, pre-cleaned and disinfected before it was placed into containers. Those containers were then placed inside 55-gallon drums that will be incinerated along with its cargo.
Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince said the city does not have the authority to decide whether the waste may enter the city, or the surrounding areas, or not.
“We don’t have the authority to stop it,” she said. “Veolia is not in Port Arthur — it’s in an unincorporated area of Jefferson County.
“I wish that none of it would come this way, but since it is coming our direction, it’s comforting to know that the safety of the employees and the citizens has been considered throughout the whole process.
“There will be no emissions, no fumes coming from the incinerator. They have the equipment and the facilities to handle this safely, and Mitch has assured me it poses no risk to our citizens or to his employees.”
Osborne said Veolia was contacted by the Department of State Health Services about managing the disposal because of the capabilities of its on-site incinerator.
“We supplied them with packaging specifications so that we can feed it directly into our incinerator,” he said. “It will be disposed 12 to 18 hours after arrival.