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HEARD ON THE BEAT / HEALTH CARE

Medical Personnel Looking to Dispose of Waste Problem

May 07, 1997|BARBARA MARSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Doctors, dentists and practice managers meet today for their annual update on laws involving disposal of medical waste--thanks, in part, to Orange County's troubled program for handling such waste.

Karen Hodel, manager for the county's program, predicted 100 to 120 people will gather for the seminar, set from 8 a.m. to noon at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel in Anaheim. The city of Anaheim's Small Business Assistance Program is co-sponsoring the fourth annual event.

The county's program for oversight of handling and disposal of medical waste facilities was the target of a scathing state audit last year for failure to adequately inspect facilities that generate and treat such waste, including syringes, scalpels and other contaminated items.

Following the state audit, and increases in medical-waste dumping at local beaches, the county decided to begin charging an annual $35 fee for generators of small amounts of medical waste. Among other incidents last year, the discovery of about 200 needles forced the closing of Bolsa Chica State Beach and Sunset Beach for several days.

Businesses that pay the $35 fee generate less than 200 pounds a month of waste. Hodel said the county regularly inspects larger producers of waste but doesn't usually inspect the smaller generators unless there's a special request or complaint.

*

Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at barbara.marsh@latimes.com

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