Federal officials announced an eight-point plan Wednesday to study the need for regulations to stop the improper disposal of needles, blood vials and other potentially infectious medical waste that has washed up on U.S. beaches this summer.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it would review the effectiveness of federal, state and municipal programs for controlling medical waste, with a special focus on pilot tracking systems now being put in place in New York and New Jersey.Some state law enforcement officials have strongly urged the EPA to set up a national tracking system for medical wastes, saying illegal dumpers will be able to escape arrest under an incomplete patchwork of state tracking programs.
But hospital industry officials have strongly opposed a national tracking system, saying it would impose major administrative burdens on hospital personnel while illegal dumpers would find it easy to evade.
Winston Porter, assistant EPA administrator for solid waste, said EPA officials would evaluate state tracking program to see if a national tracking system would be worth the costs involved.
The EPA's eight-point plan also includes efforts to: