Needle threat from thoughtless junkies

June 13, 2018

Two local men say they have cleaned up about 100 needles in hot spots across Echuca in the past six months.

TWO local men are tired of cleaning up after drug users.

Echuca’s Matt Synott and Moama’s Craig Whelan said it was disgusting the number of syringes they have found in town recently (see picture).

Together they have picked up about 100 needles in hot spots across Echuca in the past six months.

‘‘I have never seen anything like it before,’’ Mr Synott said.

Mr Synott and Mr Whelan said syringes had been found in bushland near Rotary Park and a truck stop heading out of Echuca.

And alarmingly some have not been capped.

Both men are unsure what drug is being predominantly used. A syringe could be used by an insulin-reliant person but regardless, people are urged not to pick them up.

Council’s regulatory and community services general manager Paul McKenzie said syringes were still being found in household recycling bins which was a major OH&S risk for workers manually separating recyclables.

‘‘Our waste contractor, Veolia, is unable to track the exact source of the syringes as the materials recovery centre accepts recyclables from five different municipalities,’’ Mr McKenzie said.

‘‘Council has 72 needle disposal wall safes at various locations across the shire. Council also facilitates a needle and syringe container exchange program where empty containers are provided, and full containers collected and disposed of, through each customer service centre.

‘‘The majority of people do dispose of syringes correctly.’’

Of the 72 needle disposal wall safes, 34 of them are in Echuca.

VicRoads regional director Brian Westley said the road agency would continue to safely remove and dispose of syringes with the help of Campaspe Shire.

‘‘And urge others to do so appropriately,’’ he said.

VicRoads crews routinely inspect and maintain rest areas and truck stops in the Echuca area and have seen a small increase in discarded syringes recently.

VicRoads’ primary concern is for the safety of the community using these areas and encourage people to report hazards on the road or at rest areas and truck stops by calling 131170.

People are encouraged to report any syringes found in public areas to council (1300666535) or to the Needle Clean Up Hotline (freecall 1800633353).

Incorrect disposal can lead to needle stick injuries, which have the potential to spread infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV.

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