Needles and syringes wash up on NJ beaches
Syringes and needles washed up on at least two Monmouth County beaches on Sunday but were cleaned up to allow for swimming on Monday.
Park rangers at Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch noticed them at the high tide mark and contacted the Monmouth County Health Department, which sent an inspector, according to Monmouth County Park System Assistant Director Andrew Spears.
"We made the decision at that time to close the water and surfline to visitors. The park remained open but we did not allow people to go in the water or go in the water. It remained closed until Monday morning," Spears told New Jersey 101.5.
The Monmouth County Health Department walked the entire length of the beach at sunrise Monday and did not find any additional medical waste allowing the beach to reopen, Spears said.
Clean Ocean Action Executive Director Cindy Ziff said that about 100 needles washed onto Monmouth Beach near the Beach Pavilion. She blames the "deluge" of water that fell in the urban areas of North Jersey and New York City from Tropical Storm Elsa and daily thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday. The wind blew the trash to the shore.
"That's a big flush of anything you can imagine being on the streets. The garbage juice, the litter, any needles that may be in those pipeline systems. And also all the raw sewage because all those areas are on combined sewers, so when it rains that much it's just all getting flushed into the waterways," Ziff said.
The refuse can also collect in several "garbage slicks" that can head out to sea if not first collected, which can cause problems for marine life.
NBC 4 New York reported that some needles washed up at the Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes the beach at Sandy Hook. Spokeswoman Daphne Yun told New Jersey 101.5 that was not the case.
"We had no reports of needles on the beaches at Sandy Hook," Yun said.
Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners Director Thomas A. Arnone said the source of the waste is not known but believes someone intentionally disposed of it.
"To think that someone intentionally disposed of medical waste in the ocean is beyond comprehension. This despicable action shows complete lack of respect for human safety, marine safety, and the environment. Not to mention, a total disregard for the negative effects that this has on the economy as beaches were forced to close and turn visitors away," Arnone said.