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Cracking Down On Medical Waste Dumpers In Jersey

Legislation that would strip the licenses from medical professionals and medical waste handling companies found guilty of violating Jersey’s medical waste anti-dumping laws has been unanimously approved by the full Assembly.

Needles
Flickr User tschoppi

The measure would suspend the license – for 3 years – of any health care professional, medical waste facility, generator or transporter that’s caught dumping medical waste. If a medical professional or waste handler continued to operate while under suspension, the appropriate state authority would permanently revoke their license. At the end of the three year suspension period they would be allowed to apply for reinstatement.

“Knowingly and purposefully dumping medical waste off our beaches is irresponsible and just plain stupid,” says Assemblyman Matt Milam, one of the prime sponsors of the bill, “any doctor that would be so cavalier with the public’s health and safety should automatically forfeit their right to practice in New Jersey.”

Another prime sponsor, Assemblyman Nelson Albano, says “you don’t need a medical degree to know that used needles do not belong in our waterways or on our beaches – anyone who fails that simple test of common sense shouldn’t be allowed to practice medicine in our state.”

The sponsors began working on the measure after several South Jersey beaches were forced to close before the 2008 Labor Day long weekend, after illegally dumped medical waste washed ashore.

As many as 225 syringes and other medical waste were found in Avalon – leading borough officials to close beaches four times. Syringes also washed ashore in Berkeley, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Brigantine and Upper Township.

Eventually, Thomas McFarland, a Philadelphia dentist who owns a Jersey Shore summer home, was charged with intentionally dumping the waste that caused the Avalon closings. He received probation and was ordered to pay restitution.

The legislation now heads to the State Senate for consideration.

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