Hundreds of used syringes and vials of blood were found by a fisherman near Ralston, Oklahoma, in the Arkansas River. It is reported that the medical biohazard containers, complete with blood samples and syringes with needles still attached, were tossed into the river as a means of disposal. Perhaps more startling is the fact that the act was apparently done by a reputable medical waste disposal company.
KFOR reports that Taylor Smyth was fishing in the Arkansas River in Pawnee County when he noticed some boxes floating in the water. At first, Smyth thought the containers were old tackle boxes. However, upon closer inspection, Smyth saw that the boxes were actually medical biohazard containers. Some of the containers had broken lids that allowed its contents of syringes, needles, and vials of blood to spill into the water and along the bank of the river. In total, five containers were found by the fishermen. The men say they will no longer allow their children to swim in the water and are concerned about potential public safety issues that could result from the improper disposal of these hazardous medical items.
“I don’t feel comfortable swimming now. It’s sickening to think that there’s a possibility that someone could get hepatitis from something like this, the possibility is very real I think.”
Sadly it appears this is not the first time that medical biohazard waste has been found in the Arkansas River. Tess Maune, a reporter for Oklahoma news station KOTV, notes that “a few weeks ago some containers were found on and under the Belford Bridge.” The Belford Bridge crosses the Arkansas River and joins Osage and Pawnee Counties.
As Maune reports, the local Sheriff’s department has suggested that a medical company from a larger city is responsible for the improper disposal of medical waste into the Arkansas River.
“He says it’s believed a medical company (from a larger city) responsible for disposing of the dangerous materials was dumping them in the river instead.”
Fortunately, it should not be hard to identify the company in question as Maune points out that patient names and hospital name are still printed on the vials of blood.
Some have questioned what the local government should do about potential drinking water contamination as well as posting swimming safety warnings.
What do you think should happen to the medical waste disposal company responsible for putting biohazardous waste in the Arkansas River? What should government officials do to ensure that used syringes and blood vials are cleaned from the water?