Sticking Point

Getting a freezing barrel can happen anywhere these days. But getting a shack filled with needles?
Only in Jersey, baby.

It's official; we at SURFING can add clairvoyance to our epic laundry list of skills. Take for instance, our "Last Ride" in October's Green Issue. We never thought mere words would become a reality again. But apparently, they have. "Sticking Point" begins like this:

There were needles on the beach that day. And not the cute, let's-sew-a-quilt species. I mean the fat, inject-you-with-God-knows-what variety....

Some of you may not believe such banter. But fiction, this once was not. No, "Sticking Point" was inspired by the Summers of 1988 and 1987 on the Jersey Shore, when medical waste seemed to keep bubbling up from the mighty (and filthy) Atlantic, beach after beach, syringe after syringe. But, we were under the assumption that that was another time...a much less "green" period in our Nation's history -- especially on the pollution plagued East Coast. But apparently, some people still don't give a sh–t.

This past Saturday, August 23, Southern New Jersey's high-end tourist haven, {{{Avalon}}}, (which was just voted as one of National Geographic Traveler's Top 50 vacation destinations), had a nasty {{{80}}}'s relapse. Over the course of the weekend, over 175 pieces of "medical waste" including small IV needles, 8-inch cotton swabs and needle caps washed onto the sleepy town's public beaches between 9th and 18th streets.

"What I can tell you right now is that we believe this is from a local source," says Avalon's Public Information Officer Scott Wahl, who couldn't go into detail due to the fact that the incident has become a criminal investigation. "This is mainly because the waste's condition was very new and isolated to a handful of beaches."

Nothing like fresh needles for your morning swim, eh? Despite the fact that by Sunday afternoon only 25 pieces of waste had been collected, the city has been sweeping the beaches everyday since.

"On Sunday morning there wasn't anything -- then the tide came in and the wind shifted and we found a few more pieces in the evening," says Wahl. "So we've continued to sweep the beaches in order to know for certain."

So far, nothing else has washed up. In the meantime, Wahl -- who took part in the clean-up effort and is eager to find out who is responsible for this environmental debacle -- could offer only this statement regarding the progress of the investigation: "Some of the waste did have serial numbers on it, which is obviously a good lead, so we're confident that we'll find out who did this." Bet it won't happen again. Or maybe....

To read "Sticking Point" in its entirety, check out our October Green Issue on newsstands now.