Dentist charged for waste at Jersey shore

September 5, 2008

/*Thomas McFarland*/, 59, of Wynnewood, Pa., was charged Thursday night with unlawful discharge of a pollutant and unlawful disposal of regulated medical waste, both third-degree crimes. McFarland, who owns a house in the Avalon Manor section of Middle Township, allegedly took his small motor boat into Townsend Inlet at the north end of Avalon on Aug. 22 and dumped a bag of waste from his dental practice in Wynnewood, Pa.

"Thanks to the great work done by this multi-agency team of investigators, we can say with confidence that this defendant's dental practice was the source of the medical waste on Avalon's beaches," said Attorney General Milgram. "We can say with equal confidence that this was an isolated incident and that, working with the Department of Environmental Protection, we will keep New Jersey's beaches clean and safe through continued vigilance and vigorous enforcement efforts."

According to a search warrant, police say Dr. Thomas McFarland, of Wynnewodd, admitted to Avalon police Tuesday that he dumped the medical waste in Townsend Inlet between Sea Isle City and Avalon.

The court document indicates he used a small boat docked behind the house to take the waste out and dump it.

Detectives used serial numbers on the waste that washed up to narrow their search to 13 dental practices on the east coast. McFarland's was one of them.

Other dentists tell Action News that it costs them only about $75 a month to get rid of their medical waste products.

The needles and other waste forced Avalon to close several beaches in the days leading up to the Labor Day weekend, and left vacationers afraid to go near the water.

McFarland's neighbors in Wynnewood say they're stunned. They say he's a good dentist with a sterling reputation.

"I was appalled," said neighbor John Ruggero. "Completely disgusted and appalled that anyone of any stature would do that, let alone an educated person."

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