Summerhill Waste Management Centre
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority has fined a rubbish tip and a health facility $8, 000 each after two amputated legs were discovered protruding from a pile of rubbish at the site
An investigation by the EPA found the legs had originated from anatomical bins at the mortuary and pathology departments of John Hunter Hospital.
The legs, which were cut below the knee and originated from different people, were found along with other forms of clinical waste.
The EPA said the incident was a combination of inadequate separation, classification and disposal of waste which should have been incinerated.
The patients' identities have not been released and NSW Pathology made a decision not to inform relatives.
A statement by the EPA said: 'This type of waste should have been incinerated and was instead incorrectly classified as appropriate for landfill.
'The investigation identified a lack of clear procedures between John Hunter Hospital and Specialised Waste Treatment Services.'
The body parts, which were surgically removed by a medical professional, were found at Summerhill Waste Management Centre by a bulldozer driver in February
EPA Manager Waste Compliance Cate Woods said while there had been no deliberate and unlawful action from either organisation, a serious communication breakdown between the hospital and waste services provider led to the alarming and sensitive discovery.
Acting Hunter New England Health chief executive Karen Kelly told the Newcastle Herald that HNEH had met with authorities about the incident.
'We are working with all organisations that provide services from the John Hunter Hospital campus, including NSW Health Pathology, to ensure that waste disposal processes and policies are followed correctly, ' she said.
'We are also working closely with the contracted waste supplier to tighten our systems and ensure this does not happen again.'
The rubbish tip (pictured) and Hunter New England Health were fined $8, 000 each in what the EPA described as a 'serious communication breakdown'
An investigation by the EPA found the legs had originated from anatomical bins at the mortuary and pathology departments of John Hunter Hospital