Dentist indicted for dumping medical waste

Pennsylvania dentist Thomas McFarland Jr. has been indicted by a New Jersey state grand jury on charges that he dumped needles and other medical-type waste that washed up in Avalon during the last week of August, causing several beaches to be closed multiple times, according to a press release by the state attorney general's office.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained an indictment today charging Dr. McFarland of Wynnewood, PA, with unlawful discharge of a pollutant and unlawful disposal of regulated medical waste, both third-degree crimes.

Dr. McFarland allegedly took a small motor boat into Townsend Inlet at the north end of Avalon on August 22 and dumped a bag of waste from his dental practice in Wynnewood, PA. The waste, which began washing up on Avalon beaches August 23, included 260 "Accuject" dental-type needles, 180 cotton swabs, a number of blue and white plastic capsules used to hold dental filling material, and other items.

Certain information obtained in the first days of the investigation pointed to Dr. McFarland's practice as a potential source of the waste, the press release said.

On September 2, Dr. McFarland went to the Avalon Police Department and admitted dumping the dental waste.

Each of the charges contained in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. In addition, a fine of up to $75,000 can be imposed for the charge of unlawful discharge of a pollutant, and a fine of up to $50,000 can be imposed for the medical waste charge.

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