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The Tijuana morgue: closure threatened. The Tijuana morgue: closure threatened.

Poor sanitation could close Tijuana morgue

Environmental inspection finds blood, other medical waste stored in parking lot

The Tijuana morgue is in hot water with environmental officials for storing blood, body fluids and other medical waste in its parking lot.

The federal environmental protection agency Profepa has warned it will shut down the morgue if it does not comply with urgent measures it imposed following the detection of poor sanitation practices at the facility.

Profepa officials inspected the site following a report alerting them to possible irregularities in its waste management. They discovered that medical waste such as body fluids generated from autopsies as well as used hypodermic needles and other sharps were being stored in the parking area.

Blood that should be refrigerated is kept instead in a 5,000-liter water tank and collected only every three or four months, Profepa reported.

Used sharps and other dangerous medical waste are also only removed from the morgue after periods of several months when disposal should actually occur on a weekly basis.

In addition, inspectors discovered that infectious waste is not marked as a biological hazard as mandated by regulations and in many cases it is left uncovered and exposed to the elements. A video released by Profepa also shows puddles and streaks of blood on the morgue’s floor.

The breaches of established standard practices detected by Profepa are numerous.

In a prepared statement, the agency also reported that inspectors found yellow plastic bags being used for non-anatomical waste such as used sharps, that the morgue doesn’t have a contingency plan in the case of spillages or leaks of dangerous, infectious waste and that it lacks control measures to manage the medical waste it generates.

The morgue was also unable to demonstrate that it had officially registered with the federal Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) as a generator of dangerous, infectious waste.

Profepa imposed a number of urgent application measures relating to the morgue’s processes and management of medical waste and warned that if they are not promptly implemented, it will act accordingly.

“In the event that the Forensic Medical Service [Semefo] does not comply with all the urgent measures imposed or doesn’t show advances that guarantee the adequate and comprehensive management of its infectious biological waste, Profepa will . . . issue stricter measures that could include the closure of the facilities and its processes,” the agency said.

The Tijuana morgue is not the only Semefo facility to face difficulties in the management and storage of corpses in recent times.

Morgues in Guerrero have been struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of bodies they have been required to store due to high levels of violent crime, which led to the overcrowding of their facilities last month and an accompanying fetid stench.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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