Syringes Washing Up on Shore Close Five More New Jersey Beaches

More beaches were closed to swimming in the state of New Jersey on Wednesday after medical waste reportedly to have washed up on shore.

Five beaches in Ocean County were shut down by the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), including beaches from the Normandy Beach section of Brick Township south to the Chadwick Beach section of Toms River, according to news outlet Patch citing department spokeswoman Caryn Shinske.

Shinske said the closures were ordered to protect public health after debris, including medical syringes, washed ashore.

Wednesday's closures follow on from others reported earlier in the week. On Sunday, lifeguards found medical waste on other beaches in the state including in Monmouth County, where dozens were found in the sand.

It's thought that the medical equipment washed up on the beaches as a result of overflowing storm drains following rain and tropical storm Elsa.

Kathrine Gough, a beach patroller, told NBC New York regarding the Monmouth waste: "I had gloves on and I had a picker thing, so I didn't touch any of them.

"But it was pretty weird because people were asking questions and we don't know what happened."

Regarding Wednesday's closures, the Ocean County Health Department was due to inspect affected beaches on Thursday to determine whether people can once again go swimming.

The medical waste overflows occur because of how the sewage systems are designed.

Engineers built them so that they could combine sewage, industrial waste, and storm water and have it all treated in one place, Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action in Long Branch group, told Asbury Park Press.

When it rains, these systems can flood and the waste inside is diverted into the harbor in what is known as a combined sewer outflow. Zipf thinks this is where the syringes have come from.

On Monday this week, the U.S. National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch warning for a number of states including New York amid what it called "potential for heavy rain" and "poor drainage areas in the NYC metro region."

It's not the first time something like this has happened. Several beaches in the state were closed in 2018 after waste, including syringes, washed up.

Again, the incident was blamed on combined sewage system overflows in New Jersey as well as in New York City, reported at the time.

John Weber, mid-Atlantic regional manager for the Surfrider Foundation, which aims to protect the oceans, told it could cost billions in investment to overhaul the sewage systems.

Syringe in sand
A stock photo shows a syringe lying in some sand. The medical waste forced the closure of beaches on Wednesday after other beaches were closed earlier in the week and on Sunday. Perry1121/Getty