Hundreds of pounds of garbage including medical wastes along with hypodermic needles and prescription bottles have suddenly washed up along a stretch of Lake Michigan Beach between Portage Lake and Ludington. Most of it washed up along the shores in Manistee and Mason counties Monday.

City crews loaded up 12 cubic yards, which equals to 2 ½ dump truck loads and hauled it off. Piles had gotten up to 8 inches deep in some areas in Manistee. They found garbage such as shoes, hats and other clothing. Also there were candy wrappers, cigarette packages and plastic food utensils.

The water was tested at 21 public beaches by health officials and they advise people not to swim there or touch any of the debris that was washing up.

The Manistee’s First Street public beach was closed Monday morning but reopened Tuesday afternoon . The health department ran tests on the water and found no signs of contamination in the water.

A resident in a Portage Lake area noticed the garbage washing on shore and started picking some of it up said Petty Officer Second Class Ryan Beddes, of the Manisteee Coast Guard. He said more debris was found Tuesday morning along the 45 mile stretch.

Manistee city officials used the city’s self-driven Cherrington beach comber to pick up the debris along the shores which is normally used for straining the sand for cigarette butts and other litter along Manistee’s two beaches. Mitch Deusch, Manistee’s City Manager, said, “Without it, we’d be talking about lots of rakes and shovels. It would have taken an army of workers.”

It was determined that some of the trash contained names and addresses from Wisconsin. State officials say that who ever dumped the stuff into Lake Michigan could be subject to prosecution and fines.

The garbage that was collected was taken to an unknown site where hazardous waste specialists from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality could go through it to try and find out where the trash came from. DEQ’s spokeman Bob McCann said, “When you’re talking about something like medical waste washing up on a shoreline, it’s very serious. If someone did this intentionally, it’s a violation of the law.”

If anyone spots more trash they are advised not to touch it but to call local police or the state agency. The DEQ’s 24-hour toll free number is (800) 292-4706

Jan Barrett

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