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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that his office has obtained a judgment against Aurora Health Care, Inc., requiring it to pay $340,000 in forfeitures, court costs, surcharges, and attorney fees for violations of Wisconsin’s hazardous waste statutes and regulations at Aurora’s Sinai, St. Luke’s, and West Allis medical centers located in Milwaukee County.
According to the complaint, Aurora violated State law when it improperly disposed of pharmaceutical hazardous waste as solid waste from at least 2006 until 2010. Aurora also violated State regulations when it stored incompatible hazardous wastes in the same plastic tote, failed to conduct weekly inspections of its hazardous waste containers, failed to properly mark universal waste containers, failed to determine if certain bandages are a hazardous waste, and failed to keep a hazardous waste container closed during storage.
Improperly disposing of pharmaceutical hazardous waste as solid waste can result in trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in liquid that pass through the solid waste at a landfill. This liquid is typically discharged by the landfill into a sanitary sewer for treatment by a local public owned treatment works (POTW). Most POTWs are unable to remove pharmaceuticals. Recent studies show that the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals is contributing to behavioral and sexual mutations in fish, amphibians, and birds, even at very low concentrations.
After the violations occurred, Aurora implemented a comprehensive hazardous waste disposal program, called a Black Box Program, to ensure that all future pharmaceutical hazardous waste will be properly disposed of as hazardous waste.
Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Motl represented the State. The settlement was approved by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Noonan.
Copies of the Summons, Complaint, Judgment, and the Stipulation and Order for Judgment are available here.