comscore Proper procedure followed in disposing of medical waste | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Kokua Line

Proper procedure followed in disposing of medical waste



» NCNS Environmental Inc. and Hawaii Bio-Waste Systems have permits with the Health Department’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch to dispose of their wastes in landfills. An incorrect company was given in an earlier version of this story.


QUESTION: Isn’t there a federal law that all medical waste must be incinerated? So why is medical waste still going into Waimanalo Gulch Landfill?

ANSWER: Federal law does not require all medical/infectious wastes to be incinerated.

Instead, the state Department of Health’s administrative rules require that before disposal, infectious wastes may be incinerated, sterilized or chemically disinfected on site in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendations, Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and the nonprofit Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute’s waste management guidelines.

It appears most of these wastes end up in the landfill.

"Depending upon the type of medical waste, there are various ways it can be treated and properly disposed of," said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

Many hospitals and laboratories "autoclave" or steam-sterilize the wastes, seal it in a container, then dispose of it, she said.

Large generators of medical waste, such as hospitals and laboratories, usually treat the wastes on-site and dispose of it themselves.

Okubo said they are allowed to dispose of the wastes in the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill as long as they follow the above-mentioned standards and guidelines, as set forth in their licenses to operate with the Health Department’s Office of Health Care Assurance.

Smaller generators of medical waste may use a company for treatment and disposal.

In Hawaii, Okubo said, two companies have permits with the Health Department’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch to dispose of their wastes in the landfill: Hawaii Bio-Waste Systems and NCNS Environmental, Inc.

QUESTION: Is it true that a senior citizen with proper identification, but without a Medicare ID card, cannot ride the bus at the discounted senior citizen rate?

ANSWER: It’s not true. Senior discounts or passes are available to anyone 65 years or older to ride TheBus.

The senior card for TheBus, good for four years, can be purchased for $10. With the card, you pay a cash fare of $1 per ride (and can request a free transfer upon boarding, good for two hours) or can use it to buy a monthly senior pass decal (attached to the Senior ID card) for $5.

The monthly senior pass decal allows unlimited use for regular and express service during the month purchased.

You can also use a Medicare card to pay a discounted fare of $1 per ride, plus get the free transfer.

Senior ID cards must be purchased at the Bus Pass Sales Office, 811 Middle St. You must present a valid state ID card, driver’s license, birth certificate, passport or Medicare card.

Monthly decals can be purchased at the Bus Pass Office or any satellite city hall. There is also the option of buying a one-year Senior Pass for $30 or a two-year Senior Pass for $60, which would allow unlimited rides during the time frame purchased. Visit


To the United Airlines worker who returned the book "The Last Dickens" that I had left on my seat to the library system. It saved me from having to pay to replace it. I requested the book again because I hadn’t finished it. And when I got my copy … my bookmark was in it! — Mark Stitham, Kailua

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail


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