Here’s why so much trash washed onto NJ beaches this week
MANTOLOKING — Something else to blame on the recent heavy rain: Trash washing up on Jersey Shore beaches.
The state Department of Environmental Protection received sporadic report of trash such syringe needles and tampon applicators washing up on shore from Seaside Park to Lavallette.
Mantaloking police told News 12 New Jersey that over two dozen needles washed up on beaches on Tuesday.
Brian Devlin, of the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol, said the northeast wind earlier in the week did wash in small amounts of trash (balloons, plastics, driftwood, etc.).
"This is typical with a northeast wind though because of the gulf stream. No needles or anything hazardous though," Devlin said.
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DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said the overflow from sewer systems in older areas is likely to blame for bringing the waste to the Shore. In older urban areas, the infrastructure had one combined pipe that carried both waste water and storm water to a water treatment plant.
"When there's heavy rainfall it causes the systems to overflow. There's too much water for the pipes to handle and they're designed like safety valves to discharge what's in the system. Trash that has washed off the street, cans, bottles, plastic gets into that combined system pipe. There's also waste flow from people flushing things down the toilet " Hajna said, which can include syringes used for home diabetes kits and other "floatables."
Both New York and New Jersey have these systems. The Garden State requires a netting to prevent the floatables from getting into harbors.
Hajna said that the floatables from New York discharge into Raritan Bay and the currents usually carry them to the east. The past few days there was a shift in the current, which brought them south to the Shore. Combined with an onshore breeze, it pushed the waste towards the beaches.
"No beaches were closed and local municipalities picked up whatever trash turned up," Hajna said.
The good news is that the onshore breeze shifted again off shore.
Hajna said Monmouth County beaches experienced something similar about a month ago but daily raking of the beaches took care of the problem.