Improperly disposed needles force Oneida County Solid Waste to shut down recycling centerSubmitted: 07/17/2019
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Improperly disposed needles force Oneida County Solid Waste to shut down recycling center
RHINELANDER - Sifting through a sea of bottles, cans, and milk jugs, Lisa Jolin has pretty much seen it all come through her recycling center, including things that don't belong.  The plant processes nearly 2.5 million pounds of recycling each year.

"Diapers, you know, gross things," Jolin explained.

But a discovery late Tuesday morning stopped the Oneida County Solid Waste Director's workers in their tracks.

"Yeah, it makes them nervous, I would be too," Jolin said.

Containers full of used needles sat mixed in with recyclables. Many were broken open and spilled syringes all over the recycling center's floor. Jolin immediately shut down the county's only recycling line until the crew could properly clean up the area.

"Very disheartening, you know, I'm just worried about their safety," Jolin said.

When the needles end up in containers such as a laundry detergent container, it's illegal but at least easier to clean up because they're sealed in thick plastic. However, often the containers break open and needles end up in a stream leading to a conveyor belt.

Upstairs, workers sort through recycling by hand. They wear cut-resistant gloves but when they're working quickly, someone could easily get poked and potentially infected.

"[That could lead to] significant blood tests for a number of years, I'm not sure how long, but there's great cost to that and also just the worry on their part," Jolin said.

Oneida County Detective Sergant Brian Barbour knows just how scary uncapped needles can be.

"We've run into it in vehicles, homes, public places," Barbour said.

Barbour says it's common to come across used needles tossed along roadsides and during searches of suspects' homes. He says some deputies carry puncture-resistant gloves, but they're expensive and cut down on the wearer's dexterity.

"We're all definitely very cautious of that because nobody wants to be accidentally poked," Barbour said.

State law requires people who use needles for things such as diabetic treatment to dispose of them properly. The Oneida County Health Department has specific drop off locations for used needles, including the Rhinelander Trig's pharmacy, Ascension St. Mary's Hospital, and Howard Young Medical Center.

From there, qualified experts take the needles to be incinerated.

The Health Department also offers traditional red containers made of thick plastic for transportation to disposal. Jolin says thick containers such as the ones she came across in the recycling yard work too, but they don't belong here, or even in a landfill.

"It's just easier to pitch them, but [those who do are] not realizing the risk it puts others at," Jolin said.

Jolin hoped to get her recycling line back up and running by Wednesday night or Thursday morning. She says her crew will need to play catch up, but will work slowly to keep an eye out for more needles.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

WOODRUFF - A movie theater in Oneida County saw a bit more traffic this weekend during the first ever Northwoods Film Festival.

The event entered it's second and final day Saturday evening with showings of the independent films "Juliet, Naked" and "Maiden."

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Flying a plane over Tomahawk isn't a typical summer activity for high school students, but Haley Marvin and Haile Larch aren't your typical teenagers. 

"It feels kind of good to have something different, something new that not many people are doing," said Larch.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - A church in Merrill went without an associate Pastor for almost three years. Finally, the void has been filled.

Adam Rodriguez wanted to be a pastor for a while.

"I realized quite quickly that there was a shortage of pastors because when you don't have a pastor, you need to rely on the pastors in the area," said Trinity Lutheran Church Associate Pastor Adam Rodriguez.

Now, he's at the next stop in his lifelong journey at Trinity Lutheran Church in Merrill.

"Being placed in the pastor office was humbling," said Rodriguez.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - The Lincoln County fair brings about 35,000 people to the Merrill Festival Grounds.

Organizers say one of the main reasons those people come is to interact with animals.

Families gathered in the barn for a chance to see cows, pigs, horses, and other farm animals up close.

People learned about all the work it takes to keep these animals healthy.

Local farmers said they were happy to share their way of life with others.

"When people come into the barn they're like 'hey look at all these cute animals.' They don't get to see them as much as we do. We get to see them every day on the farm," said Brenna Allen, a farmer who showed her cow.

+ Read More

MERRILL - Maple sap runs through Anthony Renken's veins like it does through tree taps during sugaring season.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - During most days out of the year, one can find Bob Cota managing a motel in Harshaw, but at least once a year, his priorities shift to grilling some nice, juicy ribs.

+ Read More

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers today signed Executive Order #38 to address the issue of clean energy in Wisconsin. The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Public Service Commission Chairperson Becky Cameron Valcq and Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole.The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Public Service Commission Chairperson Becky Cameron Valcq and Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole.

Executive Order #38 orders the Department of Administration to create the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy and in partnership with other state agencies and state utilities, achieve a goal of ensuring all electricity consumed within the state of Wisconsin is 100% carbon-free by 2050.

The Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy will be charged to promote the development and use of clean and renewable energy across the state, advance innovative sustainability solutions that improve the state's economy and environment, and diversify the resources used to meet the state's energy needs.

"Today, our administration is taking a step that promises an opportunity to create cleaner and safer jobs, to stimulate the economy, to once again have an abundant and prosperous agriculture industry, and the opportunity to restore and enjoy the beautiful natural resources our state has to offer," said Lt. Gov. Barnes. 

+ Read More
+ More General News