Un­wel­come dis­cov­ery

LO­CAL

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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