The Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) and its support partners last week inaugurated the first Ebola virus waste site at a symbolic ceremony held at the water agency’s Fiamah facility in Sinkor, Monrovia.
Ensuring the eradication of the deadly Ebola virus and preventing its renewed outbreak in Liberia is now the major focus of the Liberian Government.
To safeguard the gains in the fight to defeat the virus, the identification of a site or facility for the disposal of Ebola wastes from various Ebola Treatment Units was, from the onset, one of the crucial concerns of government and other stakeholders.
LWSC, a member of the WASH Consortium in Liberia, said its facility in Fiamah, has been selected after several consultations with experts from the World Health Organization and other major support partners in the country. These partners included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ministry of Health (MOH), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
They suggested that the LWSC storage tank in Sinkor be used for the treatment of Ebola wastes until a more appropriate arrangement could be identified for such disposals.
“We were asked where to store the disinfected wastes. WHO, CDC, EPA, UNICEF, IRC and other partners and ourselves had continued to discuss and assess the facility and we came to the understanding that it was possible to inspect and prepare to store the treated Ebola wastes here for now, until it becomes harmless to society before disposing of it,” Frankie Cassell, LWSC Deputy Managing Director for Technical Services said.
According to him, the storage tank that has been identified to store treated Ebola wastes has the capacity to contain 2.4 million gallons of liquid substances.
He further noted that every step that requires ensuring maximum protection in the process of the storage would be followed to the letter. The time for transporting the treated Ebola wastes from ETUs falls between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The Liberia National Police is aware of the process to provide security and free passage.
Mr. Cassell also indicated that each ETU has a route through which the treated Ebola wastes will be collected and transported to the storage site in Sinkor. He disclosed that the LWSC crew is responsible to carry out the storage as they are already trained to perform the task.
Residents in the neighbourhood of the facility had initially expressed concern about their safety during the period of storage.
The LWSC deputy boss said it may be for seven months or more until CDC can declare the wastes harmless. There is a social mobilization component of the process of intervention that deals with those concerns emanating from the community dwellers.
This component, he noted, is headed by the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), which is charged with creating public awareness to allay fears and apprehensions among those residing around the premises of the storage tank.