SALISBURY — Syringes appear to have washed ashore at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation over the weekend and one visitor said he would like to see something done about the mess.
Resident Richard Nagle holds a seasonal pass to the state reservation and spent the past weekend there.
Nagle said he was with his girlfriend on the reservation’s Merrimack River beach when something caught his eye in the sand.
“She was just standing there and I said, ‘Don’t move.’
Two inches away, there was an exposed needle in the grass that had just washed up,” Nagle said.
“And you know, if there’s one needle, there are going to be more and we found more almost instantly on Saturday. They were just lying around the beach with a lot of other debris, plastic bottles and stuff like that.“
He spent the rest of the weekend warning his reservation neighbors about the problem.
“There were some remnants of a storm tide surge down there which must have been tremendous,“ Nagle said. “There was a lot of stuff that it washed ashore the next day. ... I’d say we found about six needles, easy. I’m sure we find more if we kept looking.“
Nagle said he was concerned because there are barefoot children on the beach, some running with dogs.
“We ran into another couple who were walking their dog and they found a needle,” he said.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation oversees the reservation.
Nagle said he knows the state rakes the beach on a regular basis in the summer but hopes that it will pay closer attention to what is coming out of the water.
“They’ve got to clean this thing up,“ Nagle said. “At least they could put a sign up somewhere.“
Health Director Jack Morris said the matter has yet to be brought to his attention but, since the needles were found on state property, it would be DCR’s job to take care of the situation.
He said it’s important for people to not handle syringes.
“You don’t know who has handled it and if you get punctured with a used syringe, you could become infected with whatever is on the syringe,” he said.
Morris said trash such as used syringes has washed up on the shores of the Merrimack River in the past.
“Back when we had the Mother’s Day storm in 2006, there was a lot of trash that washed up along the beaches over in Newburyport,” he said. “That was all coming down from New Hampshire. We had barrels, we had needles, we had glass, trash. It was a mess.”
Morris also pointed out that combined sewage overflows from upriver communities such as Lowell and Lawrence have been discharging raw sewage into the river for years.
“Every time you get a little rain, all of a sudden they are dumping a million gallons into the river,” Morris said. “Anything is likely.”
He said the state needs to clean up the mess at the reservation.
“This is the state’s responsibility since it is their property. The town is not going to go out on state property and start cleaning up state property,” he said.
A spokesperson for DCR did not return a request for comment by press time Tuesday.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.