NOVEMBER 2008

Illegal medical waste dumped in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that a Pennsylvania dentist has been charged with dumping needles and other medical-type waste that washed up on a beach during the last week of August.

According to Milgram, Thomas McFarland was charged with unlawful discharge of a pollutant and unlawful disposal of regulated medical waste. McFarland allegedly took his small motor boat into Townsend Inlet on August 22 and dumped a bag of waste from his dental practice.

The charges conclude an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Bureau, the Avalon Police Department and the Cape May County Prosecutor’s office.

Beginning on August 23, waste allegedly dumped by McFarland was found washed up along a one-mile stretch of beach, including Accuject dental-type needles, cotton swabs, a number of blue and white plastic capsules used to hold filling material, and other items.

As investigators from the participating agencies, led by the Environmental Crimes Bureau, worked to trace the dental waste using lot numbers on the needles, the Attorney General offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible.

Certain information that the investigators obtained in the first days of the investigation pointed them to a small number of dental practices as potential sources of the waste, including McFarland’s practice.

On September 2, McFarland went to the Avalon Police Department and admitted dumping the dental waste.

The third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000 on the medical waste charge and $75,000 on the other charge.