HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A frantic cleanup was underway on a Long Island beach Saturday after hazardous waste washed ashore.
Officials shuttered East Atlantic Beach in the Town of Hempstead after police say dozens of used hypodermic needles were found around 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Security guards were stationed along beach access points prohibiting entry after Nassau cops say the syringes washed up along the shore between Ohio and Clayton Avenues.
“The concern is always that a resident finds it by stepping on it, or gets injured by a needle or somehow comes into contact with potentially contaminated material,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said.”
WATCH: Officials Discuss Cleanup Efforts At East Atlantic Beach
A lifeguard initially saw a needle and put it in a Gatorade bottle. Ultimately, 35 used syringes and needles were recovered from the shore, along with other trash that had medical markings.
“There was a lot of plastic and a lot of stuff coming out of the water,” said East Atlantic Beach resident Carl Salkin.
“It was a ton. All at the shoreline, it was just a big line of plastic – every color you could imagine, every type of refuse you could imagine,” resident Michael Luciano said. “It’s really a problem. It’s a disgrace.”
Town officials had to close the entire stretch of beach from Ohio to Clayton streets as heavy equipment combed the beach to make sure there were no remaining medical supplies. They also had a boat in the water scanning for other floating debris.
No injuries were reported as police responded and safely removed and disposed of the waste. East Atlantic Beach was to remain closed until at least Sunday as officials waited to see if additional waste appeared after at least two high tides cycle through.
“I think it’s outrageous,” said Luciano. “We’ve got the most beautiful beaches in the world and people are taking advantage of them and dumping garbage. So it’s a tremendous problem.”
Later in the day, county officials closed of all South Shore Town of Hempstead Ocean Beaches as well as Nickerson Beach and Malibu Beach until further notice.
It wasn’t immediately clear where the used medical waste came from. Police say it could be illegal dumping, trash from a canal or pumped by pipes dredging offshore.
“A bag breaks, and these needles and stuff disperse, and the tide catches it, rolls in like anything else with the waves,” Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Investigators say some of the washed up supplies had numbers printed on them, which might give a clue as to where they came from.
If you come in contact with any hazardous materials, including hypodermic needles, officials advise calling 9-1-1 so police can immediately remove the items. Police request that anyone with information of illegal dumping of hazardous materials to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1 – 800 – 244 –TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, the county also issued an advisory against bathing at 14 North Shore beaches due to bacteria concerns after recent heavy rainfall. Those beaches include Centre Island Sound, Creek Club, Lattingtown Beach, Laurel Hollow Beach, Morgan Sound, North Hempstead Beach Park, Piping Rock Beach Club, Pryibil Beach, Ransom Beach, Theodore Roosevelt Beach, Sea Cliff Village Beach, Soundside Beach, Stehli Beach and Tappen Beach.
Officials said the advisory will be lifted at 6 a.m. Sunday, unless there is more heavy rainfall or water samples reveal elevated bacterial levels. Additionally, Biltmore Beach in Massapequa remains closed until further notice.