Amputated legs discovered at Summerhill waste management facility

DISCOVERY: A file image of the Summerhill waste management centre. An investigation is underway into the source of two amputated legs discovered at the Wallsend facility.
DISCOVERY: A file image of the Summerhill waste management centre. An investigation is underway into the source of two amputated legs discovered at the Wallsend facility.

UPDATE, 4.30pm: The Environment Protection Authority says it was “looking into a number of possible scenarios” as it continues to source where two amputated legs found dumped at the city’s tip came from.

The EPA said in a statement it was continuing to work with public and private health services to establish where the legs, a right and left leg from different people, had come from.  

“We are looking into a number of possible scenarios at this stage of the investigation, including establishing the chain of disposal the body parts went through prior to ending up in the landfill,’’ the statement said.

“NSW law requires all producers of clinical waste to correctly label and store it in a secure bag or container.

“When the waste is ready to be disposed of, it must be transported in a safe and secure container and not left unattended.

“Importantly this type of waste, like asbestos can only be taken to certain landfills that are specially licenced to receive, store and/or dispose of clinical waste.

“Clinical waste must be sent to a special treatment facility, such as an autoclave, sterilising facility or clinical waste incinerator.

“Clinical waste is any waste that results from clinical activities such as medical, surgical, dental, nursing and pharmaceutical procedures.’’

“It can include things like: body parts and fluids, skin and tissue, plus any equipment used during a procedure that may be blood stained or have other bodily fluids on it.’’

UPDATE, 11.30am: Authorities searching for the source of two surgically removed legs found dumped at the Sumerhill tip have a new dilemma – the legs belong to two different people.

A forensic pathologist has determined that the left and right legs, both expertly amputated below the knee, were not from the same person.

But they have not been able to tell whether they belonged to a male or female.

It is understood a larger search is being carried out at the Summerhill waste management facility at Wallsend on Thursday to discover whether more body parts had been dumped at the tip.


AUTHORITIES were scrambling on Wednesday to find the source of two surgically amputated legs discovered dumped at the Summerhill tip.

A bulldozer driver discovered the two legs on Tuesday while working a section of the Wallsend waste treatment facility where medical waste was dumped about six weeks ago.

It is understood a forensic pathologist has determined the two legs, which had both been amputated from below the knee, had been operated on by a surgeon.

Police have since determined there were no suspicious circumstances and have handed the investigation onto Newcastle City Council and the Environmental Protection Authority.

Part of the investigation will centre around where the legs came from, and whether they belonged to a living patient or a cadaver.

Strict protocols are in place in relation to the legal disposing of human body parts.

“The EPA is working with police to investigate the inappropriate disposal of clinical waste at Summerhill Waste Management Centre,’’ a spokeswoman said in a statement.

However, it remained unclear how the “inappropriate disposal” occurred or whether a larger search of the huge tip would be needed to make sure other body parts were also not buried.

The discovery had prompted police to take over the initial investigation following fears that it could be the remains of a crime victim.

However, the determination from the forensic pathologist that the amputation of the body parts – a left and right leg cut below the knee – was done by a professional has lowered police involvement.

The legs were found where other medical waste had been disposed of.

There had been little sign of decomposition despite the parts being buried for up to six weeks, suggesting they had been treated and could have come from a cadaver rather than a patient.

It is understood that several scenarios that would be investigated include whether there was a mistake in placing the legs into general medical waste or whether a contractor had disposed of the body parts.

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said the council could not comment.

Hunter New England Health said in a statement: “The Environmental Protection Agency are investigating this matter. Hunter New England Health will assist in their investigations if required.”