Pallone Renews Call To Crack Down On Medical Waste Dumping

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

LONG BRANCH – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. joined with representatives from Clean Ocean Action and the Sierra Club today at Pier Village in Long Branch to announce that he has reintroduced his bill, the Medical Waste Management Act of 2013, in response to reports last week that syringes had washed up on the beaches of Island State Beach Park.

The Medical Waste Management Act calls for a tracking system that will hold medical waste generators accountable and gives greater authority to take swift action investigating and prosecuting those that improperly dispose of medical waste. The bill would lay out regulations to allow for smooth compliance for hospitals, health clinics, home source users and other medical waste generators. The legislation also establishes a syringe disposal program to educate the public about acceptable methods for individual syringe disposal.

“The medical waste found on New Jersey’s shores last week was fortunately limited enough that staff could respond quickly to remove it, but next time we may not be so lucky. We must ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our lakes, rivers and shores clean and safe.” Pallone said. “Medical waste poses a significant health risk to our beachgoers, pollutes our pristine waterways and threatens the tourism industry in our coastal communities. Medical waste dumping is a critical problem that needs a nationwide solution. My legislation will ensure consistency and clarity within the law so we can put an end to interstate dumping.”

In the summer of 1988, hundreds of beach-going days were lost due to medical waste dumping on the Jersey Shore. It was estimated that the New Jersey tourism industry lost $1 billion that summer. Medical waste continues to be a problem nationwide, from our coastal communities to any place where waste generators choose to illegally dump.

“Last week’s incident on medical waste reminds us we have to do more to control and prevent this from happening. That is why we support and need Congressman Pallone’s legislation to require stronger controls on medical waste. There should not be more needles on a beach than at an HMO. A day at the beach should not mean a trip to the doctor’s office. This hurts tourism as well as the environment along our coast and that is why we need this legislation,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.

“Garbage wash-ups are a scourge of the Jersey shore, and while garbage wash-ups occur far less frequently than in the past, dangerous medical wastes such as syringes are still far too common. Congressman Pallone’s bill establishes important, reasonable regulations to educate consumers and better manage and control the disposal of syringes. It should be easier to find a needle in the haystack than to find a needle on our beaches,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action.

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