Lifeguards, beach crews find over 100 needles along Jersey Shore following recent storms

Beaches in northern Monmouth County are open today after dozens of needles washed up over the weekend along the Jersey Shore, briefly closing swimming Sunday afternoon at Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch.

News 12 Staff

Jul 13, 2021, 11:47 AM

Updated 1,014 days ago

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Beaches in northern Monmouth County are reopened Tuesday after dozens of needles washed up over the weekend along the Jersey Shore, briefly closing swimming Sunday afternoon at Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch.
The theory from environmental experts is the needles come from overflowing sewer and storm drains in the New York Harbor area, and when conditions are right, they end up on the beaches. But Commissioner Tom Arnone wants an investigation by the NJ DEP because he says there were just so many needles concentrated in a small area. 
Lifeguards and beach crews found more than 100 needles between Long Branch and at Seven Presidents Park.
All swimming areas were open Monday, but lifeguards were still checking the high-water marks for any leftover needles. Environmentalists say although not as severe as the 1980s, medical waste and other garbage still washes on shore on days such as today where there are strong east winds following heavy rain in the tri state area. 
“We've had deluges, unusual deluges, for example, the recent wash up for the needles,” says Cindy Zipf, with Clean Ocean Action. “We had the subways of Manhattan get flushed, that doesn't happen all the time. So, you have all the pipes, all the subways, you have all the underground infrastructure of the metropolitan New York and New Jersey area get a wash and get a full flush.”
Zipf says in a way, the East winds are helpful because people can pick up what they normally don't see flushed out into the ocean. At the same time, they become more aware of just how much trash is still floating offshore. 
“It’s not good for tourism but I think we have to look at beyond just a tourism and this is what the marine environment has to deal with all the time,” says Zipf.
The New Jersey DEP has confirmed the needles found were at home type diabetic syringes. They washed up on shore as a result of the rains prior to enduring Tropical Storm Elsa, combined with the East winds, which followed Saturday. 
No additional needles have been found since, and all beaches are open. 
Here is the full statement from the New Jersey DEP:
“After high tide on Sunday, the Monmouth County Health Department notified the DEP that more than 100 home-use diabetic-type syringes had washed up at Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch and Monmouth Beach. To protect public health and the safety of beachgoers, parks and beach patrol staff, as well as lifeguards and members of the Monmouth County Health Department, removed the debris, also known as floatables, and placed them in appropriate disposal containers. Joline and Atlantic Avenue beaches, both in Long Branch, and Pavilion Beach, in Monmouth Beach, were closed.   
The beaches have since reopened for swimming after extensive raking overnight and during the early morning that found no additional floatables. The Monmouth County Health Department conducted additional inspections at each property and found the beaches suitable for reopening today.  
The floatables came from outfalls in and around the NY/NJ Harbor following Combined Sewer Overflows from large rain events prior to and during Tropical Storm Elsa. The overflows, in addition to wind direction and tides, directed the floatables onto the beaches from Pavilion Beach in Monmouth Beach to Joline in Long Branch.  
Combined sewer systems are shared underground piping networks that direct both sewage and stormwater to a central treatment system before being discharged into a waterway. During heavy rainfall, the systems overflow, discharging mixed sewage and stormwater to the waterway. 
Beach patrols, lifeguards and park staff will monitor the situation throughout the next high tide cycle and notify local health authorities if any additional floatables are found or wash up on the beaches.  
New Jersey has one of the most successful beach monitoring programs in the nation, known as the Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program, which uses a variety of initiatives to monitor recreational beach water quality from mid-May to mid-September every year. Throughout the beach season, the Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program coordinated by the DEP utilizes the resources of the state, counties, and local governments to regularly sample bathing beaches for bacteria, complemented by DEP aerial monitoring. Accordingly, water samples from New Jersey ocean beaches are within the standard more than 99 percent of the time.”


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