2020-01-29

Bridgewater rejects idea of public needle disposal sites

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>Scott Feener, Bridgewater&#8217;s Chief of Police.</p>

An informal public education campaign about the proper disposing of sharps appears to have put to rest concerns civic politicians raised in Bridgewater, and that prompted talk of potentially installing public needle receptacles in town.

Years ago, the Bridgewater Police Service (BPS) received a call per week about the discovery of used needles, and, in recent months, Councillor Michael Graves, Mayor David Mitchell, and the town's chief administrator Tammy Crowder met to talk about whether public needle receptacles were necessary. Police Chief Scott Feener responded recently, with a memo to council, after Crowder requested more information.

Feener recommended against any installation and Mitchell told LighthouseNOW council wouldn't be putting forth a formal motion.

Feener said in the report local business owners were contacting police about used sharps found in washrooms and town workers were reporting needles in garbage cans and parks.

"This large increase of calls lead to discussions between BPS, Engineering and Public Works regarding safety practices in handling and discarding sharps," Feener explained.

"Police have also educated businesses on safe practices when handling used needles and have suggested the installation of needle receptacles in washrooms to reduce liability around them. The majority of businesses who cater to the public in town have installed sharps containers in their washrooms."

"This has reduced police calls for service in regards to used needles."

The needles may have been used for legitimate medical purposes - insulin for example - and not necessarily for nefarious reasons such as narcotics. The syringes also could have dislodged from proper disposal units and made it into the trash.

The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia advises only using safe sharps containers so needles, syringes and lancets can be handled properly. They should never be burned, flushed, nor put in plastic bottles or jugs, garbage and recycling bags.

Feener said there were no needle calls over a five-month period ending in mid-December.

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