Neighbors take to social media after finding needles, medical supplies strewn near sidewalk

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SEATTLE -- Concerned residents voiced their frustration with drug users and even the Seattle Police Department Tuesday after finding a large dump of hypodermic needles, rubber gloves, drug baggies and trash near Northgate area homes.

Reddit User Stephenhammy posted pictures of the dump to a popular Seattle forum Tuesday night. Stephen said he came across the garbage around 10 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Burke Avenue and Northgate Way. He says it is just one example of a  "big problem of people dumping garbage and using drugs in the area."

Q13 Fox Reporter Jeff Van Sant tracked down the reddit user.  Stephen Hamilton has lived in the area for several months.  He says this was the first time he has seen this kind of trash near his home.  Stephen worried kids in the neighborhood might get curious.

"It just looks like garbage when you are far away and there's a shopping cart there and a pair of shoes.  A kid might go over there and grab the shopping cart and accidentally get stuck with a needle," Stephen said.

Stephen said he reported the trash to 911 shortly after finding it, but was given a run-around by different authorities:

I called 911, who directed me to the non-emergency line for SPD (206)-625-5011, who directed me to the Hazards Information Line (206)-587-3292, who directed me to the King County Household Hazardous Waste Facility (206)-263-3050, who directed me to the City of Seattle Illegal Dumping Hotline (206)-684-7587—all to no avail.

By 7 p.m., the debris had still not been picked up.

"I'm at my wits end at this point," Stephen wrote on Reddit, asking for suggestions on how to get the trash removed.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, the trash was still in the area, Q13 FOX News confirmed. But a short time later, Seattle Public Works employees were spotted on the scene cleaning up the mess.

Workers told Q13 FOX News reporters that they try to prioritize cleanup of needle dumps, and this was one of the bigger piles they'd seen in a while. They said the best way to get a response is call the Illegal Dumping Hotline at 206-684-7587, or download the FIX IT app.

Other commenters took to Reddit to offer advice on how to get the needles picked up, and to sympathize with residents in the area who have allegedly seen drug use on the rise.

"Northgate has turned into junky central," one user wrote. "I've even seen people camping in the nearby graveyard."


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  • Resident

    Between the forced de-policing taking place in some aspects (thank City Hall) and the great effort Seattle is putting forth to welcome homeless from far and wide what do you expect? Heroin is a growing problem. And yes, there are some cracks in the strategy of who is responsible for what. Last time I found a bunch of syringes on the sidewalk I had to man up, get some gloves, and take them down to UW Med Center for disposal.

    • Probably too cautious

      While I do admire the willingness to help, I would highly discourage anyone to pick up used needles or any other material that is dangerous to handle and leave it to the professionals for a couple of reasons.

      First, you will not have as good training and/or equipment as the professionals when it comes to handling hazardous materials.

      Second, and probably more importantly, if you injure yourself handling the material, you will be responsible for your own medical care, as opposed to the professionals who, if injured on the job, will have their medical expenses paid for by their employer’s insurance.

      Of course there will always be circumstances where it is best to pick it up yourself, but as a general rule leave it to the professionals.

  • Also a Resident

    So you’re saying you would gladly pick up the waste for this guy? Where does one draw the line between personal accountability and more than you can handle?

  • Kit

    Similar problems can be found in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. For the most part, it’s the shopping carts, trash, booze containers and some drug debris. Car campers dump stuff all the time.

    • ballard

      ballard is full of meth heads and drugs. i work on a block with a crack house on it near the bridge…the cops have been called numberous times over the last two years, but never show up. there are squatters inside that run a stolen bike ring, and still the police (and the owner of the property) do not care. if you have had your bike stolen in the ballard area, good chance it has been thru that house on NW51st.

  • ADM

    Didn’t they tell people to call the Police if you saw needles and they’d come pick it up? I heard this on the news yesterday and apparently you have to post it on social media before they actually do

  • venuscallipyge

    As a former needle-using drug addict in North Seattle, and having used in that area frequently when I was caught up in active addiction, I can tell you that while most of the addicts who congregate in the area (because of prime panhandling spots near I-5 & the mall, easy camping access under the I-5 bridge, in the cemetery, at Mineral Springs park/disc golf course, and at Licton Springs park, plus easy access to drugs both in Northgate near the cop shop and on Aurora as well)… most of the Northgate addicts are addicted to heroin to some extent, but almost all of them are even more addicted to crystal meth. It’s gotten to the point that some of the junkies I used to run with have commented in my hearing that they prefer shards (meth) to pure (synthetic heroin) these days when they have enough money to get high and not just “get well.”

    Other than that inaccuracy, this was a great story! I don’t have any problem cleaning up needles myself (as a recovering addict, I feel it’s one of my duties, to help make amends for polluting my environment along with my body while I was active in my addiction), but I certainly wouldn’t recommend the average person without bloodborne pathogens training take on the task themselves! And I, too, have experienced a great deal of frustration getting any bureaucratic attention to frustrations caused by the activities of drug addicts & drug dealers in the north end many times myself.

  • venuscallipyge

    One more thing, useful to Northgate residents – if you *do* need to dispose of hypodermics or other hazardous sharps (I have a diabetic living in my house, so I use it), there used to be a free sharps drop-off lockbox at the North Seattle Public Health Clinic entrance on 106th & Meridian. Just put the sharps in a red sharps container (available at any drug store for inexpensive) or in a CLEAR two-liter-size pop bottle (or smaller), and drop them off at that box. It’s outside the entrance, so it’s accessible 24 hours a day. Otherwise, Northwest Hospital will, I think, take them also.

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