Thousands of used syringes and other medical waste ended up on South Green Valley Road at Penny Lane Tuesday morning after a container toppled out of a delivery van. Hundreds of motorists then drove over the spilled waste and scattered it over a 300-foot swath of Green Valley. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula).
UPDATED 3:20 p.m.
Watsonville Police Sergeant Brian Ridgway said they finally located the company, called Wastestream, operating out of Pomona, Calif.
The driver was on a routine route in the Penny Lane area and was unaware that a five gallon and a one quart container toppled out of his van.
The driver said that at Green Valley and Main Street a bystander stopped him and told him his door was open so he closed it and continued on his route.
He said he was unaware of the spill.
Ridgway said that another man, unrelated to the incident stopped and picked up the containers, which was earlier reported to police by a witness.
Police say there is no crime and it was an accidental dump.
The company Wastestream said they are liable for their product and will be billed for the cleanup.
WATSONVILLE — Both southbound lanes and one northbound lane of Green Valley Road were shut down today for approximately two hours after a van carrying dry, biological medical waste dropped its load at approximately 10:45 a.m.
A 300-foot swath of Green Valley Road was covered with what looked to be thousands of used syringes and an assortment of cotton swabs, scissors, gauze pads and scalpels stretching from the corner of Penny Lane to the entrance of Green Valley Village mobile home park at 501 Green Valley Rd.
Before emergency responders arrived at the scene hundreds of cars had driven over the waste.
Sergeant Brian Ridgway of the Watsonville Police Department said a non-descript delivery van traveling southbound on Green Valley Road was responsible for the incident.
The driver, who left the scene, had apparently picked up the boxes containing the spilled medical waste and proceeded to drive off.
“He should have stuck around and called us,” Ridgway said.
The Watsonville Police Department, Fire Department, City of Watsonville personnel and the Santa Cruz County Environmental Health Services Department responded to the call.
At 12 p.m. traffic was still reduced to a crawl as gloved city workers used shovels, dustpans and push brooms to clean up the remnants of the debris.
At one point, a manhole was opened and bits of plastic were carefully retrieved.
The city’s industrial street sweeper was set to make a final sweep of the affected area after the manual work was completed.
Rebecca Supples, Registered Environmental Health Specialist III for the county said that the Health Department was there to ensure all medical waste was properly disposed and support the police.
“The Watsonville Police Department will take the lead in the investigation,” Supples said.
Though traffic was reduced to a crawl during the cleanup, Watsonville Fire Department Captain Rudy Lopez said the incident “could have been a lot worse.”
“This could have happened in a residential area – there are not many pedestrians here,” Lopez said.
Supples said that if residents are ever in contact with medical waste to not touch it and immediately call 911.
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