Local

Residents fighting medical waste company expansion

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A local community is not happy about plans for a waste facility. Houston-based Waste Management wants to operate a transfer station for its company's medical waste division in the 24000 block of West Hardy.

Spring residents want know what affect this could have on their families and their neighborhood.

Waste Management's medical division, Healthcare Solutions, has applied for a state permit to expand operations at its facility on West Hardy road in Spring. This action has its future neighbors outraged.

Just outside a quiet neighborhood in Spring, a small medical waste transfer facility has been running for about two years.

"We've been good neighbors to the community and we haven't had any issues or problems up to this point," Dr. Linda Lee with Waste Management Healthcare Solutions said.

But the medical division of Waste Management, which runs the facility, wants its small site in Spring to expand, for both storage and transferring waste.

"We're really looking to do this in a more effective way," Dr. Lee said.

And that's exactly what the neighbors don't want.

"I think it's gross," Spring resident Samantha Torres said.

From the people whose property butts up to the transfer station to other neighbors who live within a mile of the building they are saying maybe not in my backyard.

"It's pretty dirty. I mean if they're going to put it right behind where we stay, I don't know if it's really safe or not," neighbor Jonathan Ramirez said.

"We're very concerned about the storage because there are flooding issues in this area," resident Dr. Deborah Jensen said. "We started looking at what was in medical waste and it is blood-contaminated products, there are sharps, needles that have been used."

Waste Management Healthcare Solutions is quick to say that the medical waste is safe and that very little will change there .

"The doctor is required to package this material appropriately according to the regulations," Dr. Lee said.

But the neighbors are skeptical. Their worries range from increased traffic to finding medical waste in their yards to what lies in the future for the facility.

"We have questions of Waste Management," Dr. Jensen said.

Healthcare Solutions says the waste comes from local doctors' offices and it is transferred to trucks at the station. From there, it is trucked to Anahuac, where there's an incinerator.

We are told that if the Texas Department of Environmental Quality denies the permit, it just means that the expansion won't happen, but the smaller operation already in place will not be shut down.

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