Clinical Waste: Sri Lanka

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th December 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing an inquiry to determine how shipping containers containing medical waste were exported from the UK to Sri Lanka between September 2017 and January 2018.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Environment Agency (EA) as the competent authority for waste shipments for England, is proactively engaging with the authorities in Sri Lanka regarding the 263 containers of waste being returned to England and is leading the investigation on this matter. Despite media reports suggesting that medical waste was illegally shipped from England to Sri Lanka, the EA has not received any indication or evidence from the Sri Lankan authorities to corroborate those reports. Unless or until the EA receive such evidence to the contrary or come across it ourselves, it is the view of the EA that these media reports are incorrect and misleading.

With 31 containers now back on English soil, EA enforcement officers will seek to confirm the types of waste shipped, who exported it and the producer of the waste. Those responsible could face a custodial sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine, and the recovery of money and assets gained through the course of criminal activity.

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