NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The city Parks Department cleaned up a stretch of Rockaway Beach in Queens Monday after NBC 4 New York contacted the agency about medical waste, including syringes, littering the shore.
There were multiple syringes, including one with an exposed needle, lying across the sand near Beach 116th Street Monday night. NBC 4 New York found three, and another beach stroller found one more.
“If somebody’s walking along and they’re not paying attention, they could puncture themselves, get Hep-C or, you know, any kind of infection,” said the beachgoer, Faye Moore.
An NBC 4 New York viewer had emailed the station to say she found eight needles the night before. The concerned mother said she wanted the potentially hazardous situation to be addressed.
Rockaway Beach is one of New York City’s most popular summer destinations, and attracts families and young children each summer.
Locals believe it is the beach’s popularity during the summer that contributes to the trash — including needles — found along the shore.
“There’s trash on the beach all the time,” said Karina Salvo. “Usually Monday morning when I come down here, 8 o’clock, 7 o’clock in the morning, there’s trash from one end of the beach to the other. It’s disgusting.”
“Everybody that comes down to the beach has the responsibility to pick up after themselves and put it in the garbage, and they don’t do it. It’s a shame,” said Kathy Zimmer.
After being contacted by NBC 4 New York, the Parks Department sent crews to clean up the medical waste. The department said it cleans up the beach every day, but locals said it has little effect unless visitors take pride in their surroundings.
It’s not clear if the needles were washing up on shore as medical waste or if they were left behind by beachgoers who used them.