Brazil returns 47 tonnes of hospital waste to US

Brazil has returned to the US nearly 47 tonnes of hospital waste that had been intercepted last October in the northeastern state of Pernambuco by customs agents, an official said on Sunday.

The waste was shipped to the US port of Charleston, South Carolina, on board a cargo vessel that set sail on Saturday evening from Suape, a municipality near Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, the official in charge of the port of Suape's freight operations, Fernando Lucato, told reporters.

The hospital waste cargo consists of sheets, pillowcases, towels, used syringes, various hospital masks and tubes bearing the logos of US hospitals.

However, authorities are investigating why some sheets with the logos of those hospitals wound up being resold in Recife, where some of those items were confiscated.

In October, customs authorities intercepted the 46.6 tonnes of hospital waste coming from the US and confiscated another 14 containers containing 15 tonnes of ‘suspicious’ materials, in operations conducted at the port of Suape.

The shipments came from a single exporter in South Carolina and were being sent to a textile company suspected of violating the national waste policy, which prohibits the importation of trash from other countries, according to Anvisa, Brazil's national health monitoring agency.

In the import documentation for the containers, the shipment is described as being defective cotton fabric.

In recent years, Brazilian authorities have intercepted many containers coming from Europe and filled with domestic waste at their ports, and their practice has been to return those shipments to their ports of origin.

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