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This week, beaches in Avalon, NJ
have been forced to close due to the over 200 pieces of medical waste that
began to wash up on the shores of the town beginning Saturday, August 23, 2008. Waste products found in the sand, in what
environmental activists are calling the worst single case of washed up medical debris
in years, included intravenous needles and cotton swabs.

In the 1980s, frequent discoveries
of medical waste along the New Jersey shore prompted lawmakers to ban trash dumping
off the coast of the state. While this
put an end to most large scale incidents, medical debris still appears on the
shores from time to time, closing beaches and disrupting local businesses.

In a seemingly unrelated episode, Ocean
City, NJ closed some of its beaches to swimming this week as well, after six
syringes were found in the sand there on Thursday, August 28. Experts say that these six are unrelated to
the batch of Avalon syringes, which were much less deteriorated, bearing
legible labels and showing no rust. Most
Ocean City beaches opened again in time for Labor Day.

State officials have already begun
tracking serial numbers found on the Avalon syringes. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is offering a $10,000 reward for any information
leading to the arrest of those responsible for dumping the medical waste. To report information, call 1-866-TIPS -4CJ or log on to the Division of Criminal Justice’s web page. Once the responsible parties are indentified,
they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of criminal law.

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