Grimm and Runyan Request EPA to Take Action on Medical Waste on Beaches

Press Release

By:  Jon Runyan
Date: Sept. 12, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

On Thursday September 6th, Congressmen Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey, Judith Enck. The letter requested that the administrator work to amend the "Floatables Action Plan" for New York and New Jersey to ensure that medical waste will no longer wash up on New York and New Jersey's beaches.

On Saturday June 19th, the Long Beach Island Health Department closed the beaches from Barnegat Light to Ship Bottom due to syringes washing up on the shores. The waste was described as syringes from diabetics that were washed into the ocean because of overflowed storm drains. The EPA investigated and found no evidence of medical waste dumping but did nothing to fix the "Floatables Action Plan" that allowed this incident to happen.

In the late 1980's floating medical debris discharged from combined sewers in North Jersey and New York washed ashore in New Jersey and New York prompting beach closures and billions in revenue losses. In response the EPA and its partners created a "Floatables Action Plan" designed to capture debris slicks in the harbor before they can reach area beaches.

"I am honored to join my friend and colleague from New York Michael Grimm in requesting action from our regional EPA administrator," said Congressman Runyan. "The local businesses in shore towns throughout New Jersey, including those on Long Beach Island, are reliant upon tourism to keep their economies running. If medical waste continues to wash up and close the beaches, many of these businesses will face an even tougher economic future. I urge Administrator Enck to work with her regional partners to ensure that what happened this summer never happens again."

"When families visit the beach to escape the heat, the last thing they should have to worry about is stepping on a hypodermic needle," said Congressman Grimm. "Medical waste washing up on our shores is not only hazardous to our safety, but a threat to the environment and the surrounding businesses that lose revenue when the beach is shut down. This problem is not new to the shorelines of New York and New Jersey, but it's time that it comes to an end. I am pleased to work with my colleague, Rep. Jon Runyan, in urging the EPA to take action, so that next summer's beach goers can have a safe and worry-free visit."

Attached is the letter that was sent to Judith Enck, the Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey.