Environmental Protection

Clean Harbors Will Incinerate Unused H1N1 Vaccine

Clean Harbors of Norwell, Mass., now offers H1N1 Vaccination Incineration Services that will profile, collect, and dispose of unused H1N1 vaccines for health care customers nationwide. Multiple doses of the vaccine contain enough of the mercury-based preservative Thimerosal to be treated by EPA as a hazardous waste and will be incinerated. Vaccine dated at the end of 2008 and early 2009 is now at the end of its shelf life and must be disposed, according to the company.

"We have seen many customers in various states looking for our H1N1 disposal capabilities," John C. Kelsey, the company's vice president, Healthcare Services, said in a July 22 e-mailed reply to questions about the service. "We wanted to announce it to the larger community as we are growing our customer count related to Healthcare Services. We have done a good amount of work in this area with vaccines through our hospital Pharmaceutical Waste programs."

He said the cost varies but is "generally the same pricing as other materials requiring hazardous waste incineration. The vaccine doses are in inventory and will be shipped via DOT packages for proper disposal," Kelsey added. "We are seeing multiple truckloads per week of the vaccine now and cannot align total amounts but we do expect the need to occur from many locations as the normal pathway for outdated items."

Unused vaccine doses normally are returned through Reverse Distributors, but these have no value and thus must be disposed as a waste, he said, continuing, "It is good that PHER funds can be used to reimburse organizations for the disposal process."

The Centers for Disease Control mandates proper disposal of H1N1 vaccines and allows Public Health Emergency Response (PHER) funds to be available for the disposal. Health care providers nterested in the service can call 888.304.7035, e-mail healthcareservices@cleanharbors.com, or visit www.cleanharbors.com/healthcare.

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