WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Ogdensburg Police Department says it's dealing with a "large volume" of discarded meth labs and hypodermic needles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police issued a news release about the problem Wednesday, saying, "We felt it important to inform people of the significant numbers of these two, dangerous existences, and re-familiarize people on what to look for and be cognizant of while enjoying the outdoors."
Police also released photos of some of the needles and labs they’ve dealt with (see below).
In the past 51 days, the police department has responded to 41 incidents of discarded hypodermic needles around the city.
"The quantity of needles for each incident ranges from one, to multiple. These needles pose an obvious health risk for anyone coming into contact with them. We are especially concerned for our young, curious children, who may discover one of these needles, recklessly discarded in the street, on sidewalks, or in our parks," the police said.
If people see a hypodermic needle, they're asked to stay away from it and contact the Ogdensburg Police Department, which will send an officer safely dispose of the needle.
During the same time period, the police department has responded to 20 meth lab dumps.
Police said the "discarded labs are typically discovered by members of the public out for a walk, or investigating suspicious material found on or near their properties. Much like the hypodermic needles, the labs are criminally and recklessly left along the side of the road, our walking trails, in yards of unsuspecting community members, along our shorelines, and worse, in the parks that our families and young adults utilize each day."
Police say the labs pose significant health and safety risks, from the inhalation of the caustic fumes, to the flammability and explosive potential of the mixture of dangerous components.
St. Lawrence County, and more specifically, the city of Ogdensburg, recently led the entire state of New York in methamphetamine labs.
Police said items most often seen in a meth lab dump are plastic drink bottles containing beaded sludge. The sludge might be white, green or aqua blue, having the appearance of fish tank pebbles.
Other bottles may contain a yellow liquid.
Along with the bottles, there could be plastic tubing, coffee filters, lighter fluid bottles, lantern fuel or blister packs that are typically seen with types of medication.
Police warn the public that “these labs and their discarded components emit toxic gases, and have the potential to ignite and explode. If you see a suspicious bottle or suspicious bag, DO NOT pick it up or attempt to inspect the contents on your own. Contact the Ogdensburg Police Department so qualified personnel may respond to and inspect the suspicious materials.”