Prick of the litter: City cleans up hundreds of hypodermic needles discarded on Plumb Beach

Brooklyn Daily
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All it took was a shot in the arm.

Sanitation workers collected more than 300 hypodermic needles from the sands on Plumb Beach on Nov. 16 after a local told this paper he was on pins and needles that someone was going to get hurt but that the city’s 311 operators were too dull-witted to route his call. Locals dodged a bullet now that the city cleaned up the used shots, which can be fatal to anyone hapless enough to prick themselves on one, an expert said.

“It’s lethal,” according to Doctor John Berall of Brooklyn Heights. “It could give you anything that can be transmitted by a needle. So, yeah, this is despicable.”

All in all, sanitation collected roughly 300 hypodermic needles, 50 “butterfly needles” with tubing, and a blood vial remaining on the shore of Plumb Beach after the local whistle-blower collected another 100 more than two weeks ago, according sanitation department spokeswoman Belinda Mager. The waste must have come form a medical center rather than a personal user, but that there was no evidence linking the pointy refuse to any area hospitals, she said.

“Sometimes something may be labeled with the hospital, but there was no paper documentation to show where they came from,” the Mager said.

Gerritsen Beach man Ray Schaffer made the grimy discovery during one of the many sojourns he takes to the sandy outcropping of Sheepshead Bay. Schaffer tried calling 311 twice, but said the hotline’s operators bounced him around to different city agencies without a resolution. The city contends the man didn’t provide enough information and that it handled the Schaffer’s calls appropriately.

Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Gerritsen Beach) alerted the sanitation department after hearing from constituents, the pol said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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