Amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, federal authorities announced on Monday that they had found large quantities of human tissue and other medical waste dumped in woods outside Mexico City and leaky hospital bags crammed into a warehouse in Puebla.
The environmental protection agency Profepa said that 3.5 tonnes of hospital waste was found in a forested area of the México state municipality of Nicolás Romero. It said it supervised the removal and disposal of the hazardous and infectious waste between May 4 and 11.
Environmental authorities in México state first reported in mid-April that hospital waste including partially-incinerated human tissue had been dumped on a hillside in Nicolás Romero, located about 40 kilometers northwest of central Mexico City.
Profepa said it had filed a criminal complaint with the federal Attorney General’s Office against whoever was responsible for the illegal dumping.
The scene found at a warehouse in the Puebla municipality of Cuautinchán was also a grotesque and grisly one.
Some 6,000 cubic meters of medical waste was piled to the ceiling of a clandestine warehouse in the municipality, located about 30 kilometers southeast of Puebla city. Plastic hospital waste bags were crammed so tightly into the metal warehouse that its walls were bulging and collapsing, the Associated Press reported.
Profepa said that blood and other bodily fluids were leaking onto the floor of the warehouse, whose refrigerated sections were out of order.
“This company’s improper handling [of the waste] represents a direct environmental and public health risk,” the agency said, explaining that most of it will have to be incinerated.
As the Covid-19 pandemic grows, specialized waste incinerators are being inundated with used personal protective equipment and dangerous hospital waste. The situation appears to have led unscrupulous operators to dispose of hazardous medical waste illegally.
Another problem generated by the pandemic is the accumulation of used, potentially contaminated coffins at Mexico City’s overburdened crematoriums.
In recent years, some 100,000 coffins were reused annually after disinfection, according to data from the Senate, but the coronavirus pandemic has put an end to the practice because people are fearful that infectious fluids may have leaked into them from body bags containing deceased Covid-19 patients.
With no market for used coffins, piles of them have accumulated at crematoriums in the capital, where there are three-day backlogs of bodies, according to a report by British media organization Sky News.
A report published Monday by the anti-graft group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity said that death certificates indicate that there have been more than 4,500 coronavirus-related deaths in the capital, more than three times the number reported by authorities.