Aurora to pay fines for improper pharmaceutical waste disposal
By Rick Romell
Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel
May 28, 2014
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Aurora Health Care Inc. will pay $340,000 for improperly disposing pharmaceutical hazardous waste in landfills, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Wednesday.
Aurora, the largest health care organization in the state, violated state law by treating the hazardous pharmaceutical waste as solid waste from at least 2006 until 2010, the state alleged in its complaint. The waste came from Aurora’s Sinai, St. Luke’s and West Allis hospitals.
Van Hollen said in a statement that Aurora also violated state regulations on storing hazardous waste, conducting weekly inspections of its hazardous waste containers, failing to properly mark them, failing to determine if certain bandages were hazardous waste, and failing to keep a hazardous waste container closed.
Disposal of pharmaceutical waste can be dangerous because trace amounts of liquid can pass out of landfills and be discharged to sewage treatment plants. Most plants can’t remove pharmaceuticals, and their improper disposal can contribute to behavioral and sexual mutations in fish, amphibians and birds, Van Hollen said.
After the violations occurred, Aurora put procedures in place to ensure that pharmaceuticals are properly disposed of as hazardous waste.
The state sued Aurora in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. The $340,000 Aurora will pay to settle the case includes forfeitures, court costs, attorney fees and other charges.
In a statement, Michael Brophy, Aurora’s chief communications officer, said, “We take our responsibility to be a good corporate citizen very seriously, and that includes being careful stewards of the environment. When issues related to the original complaint were discovered, we promptly took action to fully resolve them. This settlement represents a fair accountability in this matter.”