New Jersey Has Had Just About Enough of Your Medical Waste

Keep your syringes to yourselves, Philly, New York.

Here we go again. New Jersey’s getting a black eye because of another state’s waste management problems.

On Friday, 36 syringes washed up on the shores if Island Beach State Park, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Is this trash from New Jersey? Most likely not, says the Environmental Protection Department. Their best guess right now is that it washed down from New York.

But will we take the brunt of this? Of course.

Look what happened after Dr. Thomas McFarland, a dentist from Wynnewood, Pa., dumped his medical waste into the canal by his Avalon Manor shore house in 2008. Needles hit the beaches of Avalon, closing some of them down week before Labor Day of that year.

Headlines screamed about needles on the beach, recalling the “Syringe Tide” of 1987 and 1988 when medical waste from a landfill in State Island shut down beaches along the Jersey Shore.

That’s why I cringe. To a broad swath of New Yorkers and Philadelphians, New Jersey is that “other” to be used as a punching bag. Something like this will spew forth another batch of headlines and claims that are based more on a continued tradition of mockery than reality. Our waters are clean, and getting cleaner. New Jersey is ranked seventh in beach water quality out of 30 states, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a major jump from when we were 19th on that list in 2007.

But facts? Facts? It’s New Jersey! I don’t need facts! The Turnpike! Smokestacks! DIRRRTY! (though my favorite are city snobs who crap on New Jersey nine months out of the year, but on Memorial Day hit the OMG I NEED TO GET DOWN THE SHORE I LURRRRVE IT THERE I NEED TO INSTAGRAM A SUNSET NOW switch, as if it’s not part of the rest of the state).

But back to those pesky facts! It’s not like 36 drug addicts sat on the beach of Island Beach State Park to shoot up with insulin needles, and a Wynnewood, Pa. dentist office is a long way from Avalon. We’ll still take the hit to our reputation, though, and that New York black eye will linger. Hell, we’re still recovering from what New Yorker Snooki, New Yorker JWow, New Yorker Vinny and Rhode Islander Pauly D dropped on our beaches, courtesy of a New York entertainment conglomerate.

When I was in South Seaside Park on Monday, one year round resident told me he couldn’t wait until the bennies (the North Jersey equivalent of shoobies) left for the summer. He appreciates their business and the money they spend, especially after Sandy, but he’s tired of picking up their cigarette butts off the beach, and smelling what they vomit overnight into the dunes.

It’d be nice if people from other states would stop dumping their medical waste in our oceans, too.