Bloodied syringes found on shore at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park
KEEHI LAGOON, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Those who frequent Keehi Lagoon Beach Park say needles have been washing up on shore more often.
Three in two weeks. That's how many used needles the paddlers of Keola O Ke Kai Canoe Club say they found floating along the shoreline at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park.
They are right in the midst of paddling season and they are afraid if something isn't done, someone could seriously get hurt.
"So this is what we normally find, and we just toss it and throw it away. But the cap is still on, so obviously you don't want to touch that part. But we usually just pick them up. What do we do with it? I don't know? You just gatta throw them away," said Gino Dayton, holding up a syringe.
Dayton said on Monday that needle was on the beach along the shoreline, and his 1-year-old boy almost picked it up.
As a father and the founder of Keola O Ke Kai, which uses the beach almost every day, he says this is unacceptable.
"We try to tell the kids the water over here is safe, it's calm. But then we find these kinds of things and it makes us wonder what's really going on," Dayton said.
Two years ago, he said one of his paddlers actually stepped on a bloodied syringe while barefooted. She was rushed to the Emergency Room. Luckily he said she didn't contract anything.
"It's scary. I don't know where these needles been. You think about stuff like AIDS and stuff like that and it's scary," Michelle Caravalho said.
Caravalho is a paddler and mother of three. She says her family uses the beach nearly every day. She said last year she found about a dozen needles on the shore.
"There was about 10-15. It was a whole bunch. It surprised me that there were so many and it's scary because my kids are out here," said Caravalho.
Paddler Primo Mateo says the problem is so bad he tries to use footwear as much as he can.
"You think of this as your second home where you come out and paddle. So it's kind of nerve-wracking when you step in the water and you gatta worry about these kinds of things," Mateo said.
The city's Department of Parks and Recreation released a statement saying:
The Department of Parks and Recreation is working with DLNR and DOH to identify the source of the waste and to find the best course of action going forward. Our primary concern is the health and safety of park visitors. We ask that anyone who encounters hazardous materials at any beach or park on O'ahu to make a note of the exact location and then contact authorities. We ask that you please do not put yourself at risk by trying to remove a potential biohazard yourself.
It's unclear where the syringes are coming from, but we know that two streams flow into the lagoon.
The paddlers and coaches say they try to clean up themselves as much as possible, but something else needs to be done.
The city said its staff members didn't see any needles on the beach on Wednesday but they will be on the lookout going forward.
Hawaii News Now has also reached out to the state Department of Health, but officials are still looking into the matter.
For more information on safely disposing needles, visit besmartwithsharps.com or hawaiizerowaste.org.
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