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Springfield DPW Reminds Residents to Properly Dispose of Medical Waste

|   City News

The Springfield Department of Public Works would like to remind residents to properly dispose of their medical waste. For the last three (3) Thursdays, including today March 2nd, alarms were triggered at the F&G Waste Transfer Station in Agawam by small quantities of short-lived radioactive substances of medical origin.

The waste was brought in by a Springfield trash truck that had collected waste in the Thursday Route 3 waste collection area in the East Springfield and Liberty Heights neighborhoods.  Please see the attached map.

One reason for the increase in alarms at the disposal facility is due to patients who receive radiation treatments going home from hospitals and continuing to evacuate the byproducts of those treatments into undergarments, a diaper used by such patients, or bloody materials.  Radioisotopes have a half-life of 65 days. 

The other cause of the Radiation Alarms sounding is animal waste disposed of in the trash.  When a pet receives cancer or tumor treatments, the pet waste becomes contaminated and needs to be disposed of properly.  3 contaminated trash loads from radioactive kitty litter cat waste cost the City of Springfield an additional $6,000.

Costs to have a consultant identify the type of radiation emanating from incoming garbage loads have risen substantially and may have to be passed on to the resident contaminating the trash truck.  Each time the alarm sounds, the cost to the City of Springfield is $2,000. 

Once a load has been identified and flagged, specialists must come in from Boston to identify the contamination.  The truck must remain at the disposal facility until the specialist inspects the material; this process can last from 2 to 5 days. 

The City of Springfield loses the use of this truck while this happens, as it sits unused waiting to remove the radioactive material.  Then the contents of the truck must be spread out on the ground, dug through and monitored with a Geiger counter. Once the material identified, contained, labeled, it must be stored until the levels drop enough for normal disposal.  This takes between 2 to 3 months of storage for the levels to drop.

The Springfield DPW would like to remind residents that if you are disposing of regulated material, please consult with your doctors and veterinarians.  They are required by law to process any contaminated clothing, gauze, cat litter or whatever the radioactive material may be

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm