Huge quantity of out-of-code hand sanitiser fills New York airfield

3rd of June 2022
Huge quantity of out-of-code hand sanitiser fills New York airfield

Around 700,000 gallons of out-of-code hand sanitiser is causing a headache for New York officials.

It was manufactured by US prison inmates in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in a bold plan by existing New York governor Andrew Cuomo to overcome supply shortages.

Cuomo decreed that prisoners at three state correctional facilities should produce hand sanitiser from March 2020 to October 2020. But following massive over-production, much of the sanitiser is now past its sell-by date and has become a white elephant for state officials.

The flammable material needs to be stored outdoors to meet fire code regulations and is currently being kept under tarpaulin at a former New York State airfield. It occupies 4,000 pallets stretching the length of three football fields.

"There is a way to properly dispose of it - but the issue here is volume," said Diana Aga, environmental research expert at the University of Buffalo. It is believed the cost of disposal could run into millions of dollars and would require hundreds of trucks to ship it out for incineration.

Politicians reacted with shock when advised of the issue. "My reaction is pretty much like anyone else's: That's nuts, what a waste," said New York State Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hand sanitisers should contain a minimum of 60 per cent alcohol. According to the US industry standard most products should last between two and three years before expiry. But some alcohol evaporates over time and this is said to make the product less effective.


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