An Australian bulldozer driver's grisly discovery has led to a health authorities and waste management services being slammed with $17,000 in fines, after he found two severed legs dumped in a landfill near Newcastle.
He found the legs sticking up from a garbage pile, triggering an investigation by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
The EPA found the legs had been amputated from patients at Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital - both later died.
However, the legs were then mistakenly placed in the wrong waste bins.
"The EPA has concluded that the clinical waste originated from anatomical bins at the mortuary and pathology departments of John Hunter Hospital," the EPA said in a statement released on Tuesday.
"This type of waste should have been incinerated and was instead incorrectly classified as appropriate for landfill.
"The investigation identified a lack of clear procedures between John Hunter Hospital and Specialised Waste Treatment Services."
EPA manager of waste compliance Cate Woods said both the health facility and waste disposal services were fined because they had "made errors independent of each other".
"This incident was a combination of inadequate separation, classification and disposal of waste which should have been incinerated. It's important for organisations to strictly adhere to the requirements around clinical waste, not only to reduce risks to the environment and the community, but also to avoid potentially distressing situations, like this one," she said.
Relatives of the deceased have not been informed of the bungle.