Dumped syringes pose threat to student safety

By TOBY WALKER

RESIDENTS living near Grafton Public School are concerned for the safety of students after more used syringes were found discarded near a busy footpath.

One local man, who did not wish to be named, said six more blood-stained syringes had been found dumped on a patch of grass near the school in recent days.

The latest discovery brings the number of needles found in the area in the last fortnight to 10.

It is not the first instance of needles being found in the area.

The man said it was a concern considering the number of students who walked past the area on their way to and from school each day.

"It's only a matter of time before a kid walks past and picks one up and my question would be 'who's going to take responsibility when that happens?'," he said.

"The morons dumping these syringes obviously aren't going to take responsibility."

The man said Clarence Valley Council was doing its best to remove the syringes as quickly as possible, but believed something needed to be done to protect the school's students.

Council environmental officer Ken Wilson believed the discovery of the needles pointed to a problem specific to the area near the school and was not indicative of a greater issue across the Clarence Valley.

"We don't have anyone who keeps statistics on how many needles are found around the place but council staff do find them in public toilets and park areas during their day-to-day duties," he said.

"It doesn't appear to be a problem in the Clarence Valley when compared to other (local government) areas.

"But obviously it's still certainly a concern for the public and our staff members who are cleaning gardens and toilets."

In relation to the call by residents for sharps bins, Mr Wilson said the idea had already been tried in the Grafton area and had met with complications.

He said the former Grafton and Maclean Shire councils had trialled sharps bins in public toilets a few years ago but found they had posed a more serious health risk after vandals broke them open and scat- tered used needles.



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