Cleanup crew in CBRM stumbles across abandoned needles.
A group working to clean up the Cape Breton Regional Municipality came upon some particularly unwelcome refuse in the course of their duties.
In the span of only a few days, the Trashformers — a partnership between the CBRM solid waste department and ACAP Cape Breton that sees summer students pick up trash throughout the municipality — discovered about 100 discarded used needles.
“There were three separate incidents where a lot of needles were found,” said Caitlin O’Brien, education co-ordinator with ACAP Cape Breton. “This is the most needles we’ve ever found in such a short amount of time.”
They found about 30 in an area in Bridgeport, another 30-40 in an area of Whitney Pier and another 30 behind Centre 200 in Sydney.
Last year throughout the whole summer the team only found about 60 needles.
The crew has been advised to call the Cape Breton Regional Police non-emergency dispatch number when they discover discarded sharps. ACAP has also reached out to the Ally Centre.
A few years ago, the centre began placing boxes for collection of used needles at key locations around the CBRM to try to discourage people from discarding used sharps in an unsafe manner.
The initiative came out of a blood-borne pathogen working group that the coalition and the Cape Breton District Health Authority formed a couple of years ago to devise a strategy for the district.
O’Brien said they hope to meet with officials from the Ally Centre soon. In the meantime, she said they’re doing their part to warn members of the public to be careful.
“We just want to tell people that they’re out there and to be safe,” O’Brien said. “We’re not the experts in this sort of thing ... We want to talk to other community organizations that have also seen this and talk about what are some of the issues, maybe talk about where we found them.”
O’Brien said the Ally Centre and its needle exchange do great work. In 2014, the harm reduction initiative gave out about 623,000 needles.
The Trashformers program is in its seventh year. Each year they have noticed a steady increase in the number of needles they find. When the crew does come across needles, they are normally scattered and discovered individually rather than a large number in a single area, O’Brien said. When they are on the job, they wear steel-toe boots and gloves.
“To find so many of them all at once, it’s unfortunate that we found that but I’m also glad that we found them and knew who to call rather than a kid finding them and not knowing what they are and touching them,” she said.
“You just don’t know what’s on them, especially with the rise in different types of drugs you hear about in the news, you really don’t want to touch them.”
ACAP Cape Breton posted this photo on Twitter of some of the needles its Trashformers have come across in the course of their cleanup duties to warn others to beware.