Two surgically removed legs found at a rubbish dump in Newcastle came from two different people, the ABC understands.
The legs were found in a pile of rubbish at Newcastle’s Summerhill Waste Management Centre in Wallsend on Tuesday.
Craig Lamberton, director of hazardous incidents at the Environmental Protection Authority, said the legs were not legally disposed of.
“Clinical waste needs to be treated through a sterilisation and physical defamation process so that it’s sterile,” Mr Lamberton said.
“It has to go to a specialist treatment facility before any waste can go to landfill. Clearly this hasn’t happened in the case at Summerhill.”
Police have confirmed their discovery is not related to a criminal matter.
Corporations that unlawfully dispose of medical waste can face fines of up to one million dollars.
The New South Wales Opposition has demanded answers from the state government, saying the protocol surrounding the disposal of limbs appears to have broken down.
Disposal of legs ‘just repulsive’
Lorraine Long from the Medical Error Action Group said she was worried that cost-cutting within the health system could be to blame for the mix-up.
“The outsourcing of responsibilities is not the way to go. It’s terrible,” Ms Long said.
“You know I feel for the tip workers and whoever’s limbs they are, because if those patients are now deceased, well it’s disrespectful.
“You know even a family member reading the news or listening to it and finding out their limbs were found and they’ve got a loved one who’s just had an amputation I mean it is just repulsive.”
A spokeswoman for NSW Health said its waste management guidelines assist public health care facilities to comply with environmental protection and waste disposal legislation.
She said the directive provides the rules and regulations that public health facilities and the private contractors they engage are legally required to comply with when disposing of clinical waste, which includes human body parts.
“All contractors engaged by our public health care facilities to carry out the disposal of clinical waste must be licensed by the EPA,” she said.
“Penalties for non-compliance with environmental protection and waste disposal legislation are issued by the EPA.”