Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NJ lawmakers write prescription for med-waste dumpers

New Jersey vacationers were outraged when Avalon's beaches were forced to close prior to the busy Labor Day weekend in 2008 after medical waste washed ashore.

An intense criminal investigation tracked down the source--a suburban Philadelphia dentist who had piloted a small boat into Townsend's Inlet, just north of Avalon, and dropped overboard a bag of needles and other medical waste from his dental practice.

Three New Jersey Assemblyman, still smarting from the incident, are sponsoring legislation that would crack down hard on medical practitioners, medical facilities and transporters involved in illegal medical waste disposal.

The bill, A-861 (pdf), applies to doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals, as well as to hospitals, nursing homes, labs and other medical facilities and to transporters of medical waste. If found guilty of willfully violating the state’s medical waste anti-dumping laws or regulations, they would see their license, registration or other authorization to practice suspended for three yearsThe registration or license would be revoked if the violator continued to operate or practice while suspended.

If the guilty professional or handler is not a New Jersey-based company (as was the case with the Avalon wash-up), New Jersey's Attorney General's office would contact its appropriate sister agency to ensure the offender faces the appropriate penalties in his or her state of operation.

The bill was released from committee on October 18 and is now in position for an Assembly
floor vote.

Pennsylvania dentist indicted on charges of dumping waste in ocean

(11/19/2008 story and video)

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