Arrest made in gruesome body-parts fraud

Albuquerque Police are trying to find out if an Albuquerque company that handles bodies donated for medical research tried to dump body parts in Kansas City.

BioCare’s owner, Paul Montaño, was arrested Wednesday night on three fraud charges…

Questions arose about Montano’s business after several body parts showed up in Kansas City, Kansas.

First a head and torso showed up at a facility called Stericycle, a company that incinerates medical waste, but not body parts. Then police stopped a shipment to the plant last week, containing 30 drums full of body parts. Six heads were in the shipment. The labels on the drums were from BioCare in Albuquerque…

Fraud charges would be filed if authorities believe the company lied to the families of people that donated their bodies to BioCare, according to police.

“The person, my loved one, that BioCare gave me in my urn, is that my loved one or not? Or did you give me someone else,” Police spokeswoman Nadine Hamby said.

The Kansas City coroner worries about that as well. He identified an arm Tuesday because it still had a tag on it with the name of an Albuquerque funeral home. The funeral home told the coroner it thought it cremated the man’s body after BioCare returned his remains in a box in September. The funeral home then gave the ashes back to the family.

The coroner in Kansas said Wednesday that the six heads are in good condition and he should be able to identify them through photos. Records from BioCare may speed the process along.

Montaño’s hustle was simple enough. He advertised free cremation if people donated bodies to scientific research.

He was paid for the research and in turn was supposed to have the remains cremated locally and ashes returned to the family.

At this point in time, it looks like he was just adding whatever was left from research to containers of medical waste shipped to Stericycle – and giving folks ashes from someone or something else.

Military burns garbage, body parts in open pits

The pervasive smoke spewing from the junk heap at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq is causing many returning troops to be concerned about the effects on their long-term health.

For four years, the burn pit was a festering dump, spewing acrid smoke over the base, including housing and the hospital.

Until three incinerators were installed, the smelly pit was the only place to dispose of trash, including plastics, food and medical waste.

“At the peak, before they went to use the real industrial incinerators, it was about 500,000 pounds a day of stuff,” according to a transcript of an April 2008 presentation by Dr. Bill Halperin, who heads the Occupational and Environmental Health Subcommittee at the Defense Health Board. “The way it was burned was by putting jet fuel on it.”

A lawsuit filed against the burn pit operators by a contractor alleges the burn pit also contained body parts.

“Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains. The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths,” says the lawsuit filed in Texas federal court.

Aside from Balad, there are similar pits at bases elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some still have no incinerators…

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American hospitals flush tons of drugs down the drain

U.S. hospitals and long-term-care facilities annually flush millions of pounds of unused pharmaceuticals down the drain, pumping contaminants into America’s drinking water, according to an ongoing Associated Press investigation…

One thing is clear: The massive amount of pharmaceuticals being flushed by the health-services industry is aggravating an emerging problem — the common presence of minute concentrations of pharmaceuticals in U.S. drinking-water supplies, affecting at least 46 million Americans…

The Environmental Protection Agency told assembled water experts last year that it believes nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities use sewer systems to dispose of most of their unused drugs. A water utility surveyed 45 long-term-care facilities in 2006 and calculated that two-thirds of their unused drugs were scrapped this way, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies…

The EPA is considering whether to impose the first national standard for how much drug waste may be released into waterways by the medical-services industry, but Ben Grumbles, the EPA’s top water administrator, says a decision won’t be made until next year, at the earliest.

It certainly won’t be made until after Bush leaves office.
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