A former waste plant worker has claimed levels of material held at a disposal site, including “human body parts and a dead penguin” were within guidelines, a court heard.
Philomena Thompson, 62, worked at sites owned by Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) in Shotts, Lanarkshire, and Dundee.
She told a trial medical waste began to build up in the Shotts plant just over a year before the business closed after problems with incinerator sites in England.
Thompson, who worked in compliance at HES, claimed the ‘latter’ months of the business saw a build-up after issues at plants in Newcastle and Normanton between May 2017 and December 2018.
But she said the amount of waste was still within the permit granted to the plant by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
HES managing director Garry Pettigrew, 56, denies breaching environmental laws at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Prosecutors claim he kept more than 187 tonnes of hazardous waste, including human body parts, at the Shotts depot between May 2017 and April 2019, when the firm went into liquidation.
Thompson, who told the court she mostly worked off-site, added: “The incineration plants had gone down at the same time so the waste on the Shotts site increased.
“It was still in line with our permit, it wasn’t over our permit but it did increase because we were getting more waste from down south.
“This was in the latter months the waste increased.”
When later asked by depute fiscal Emma Jeffrey if Pettigrew had much to do with the ‘day-to-day’ running of the Shotts site, Thompson, who now works in Tesco, replied: “I don’t think he had much to do with it.”
The trial had earlier heard the cost of clearing the HES site in Shotts rose to almost £660,000 and took nearly all of 2020 to clear the plant which was ‘wall-to-wall’ with medical waste.
Peter Wightwick, a contractor, said his team had to burst open pallets of medical waste and found containers of human body parts mixed with other rubbish.
Photographs shown to the court included one of a penguin carcass which is said to have come from Edinburgh Zoo.
Wightwick claimed other dead animals were found at the site but were unidentifiable because they had turned to a ‘kind of liquid fur’.
Other photos shown included tubs date-marked 2017 which contained human body parts from NHS sites across Scotland.
Pettigrew was the managing director of the firm which went into liquidation in April 2019 after losing NHS contracts.
The trial before Sheriff Liam Murphy continues.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country