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Carbonear business owner rattled by dangerous find inside returned bottles

By Chris Lewis | Oct. 8, 2020

One Carbonear business found a potentially dangerous surprise in some returned beer bottles.

Butt’s Esso in Carbonear is owned and operated by Mayor Frank Butt. The business, like many gas stations in the province, accepts beer bottle returns.

However, this past week employees at Butt’s Esso were faced with a situation that Butt said is a new one, but not entirely unexpected: there were used syringes left inside some of the bottles.

The incident initially came to his attention after the beer distributor had come by to restock and pick up any empties that had been brought in.

Butt said that they brought in an old case of a dozen empty bottles, and, after looking inside, Butt could see a number of small syringes. Although they were facing down, Butt said that the potential for an injury was too possible for his liking.

“I asked if this was an isolated incident, and (the distributor) told me no, not at all,” Butt said. “He just wanted to make me aware of it.”

From there, Butt took to social media to advise customers of the situation, and that he would be reviewing the business’ video surveillance. If it were to happen again, he said that those responsible would be refused service.

Butt said that this incident is an indication of a much bigger problem currently facing the province, and one that Carbonear is not exempt from. He hopes to at least make people a little more aware of the problem.

“I know there’s been an increase in syringes like this right here in the Town of Carbonear,” Butt said. “I get a call at least every other day saying there’s a syringe on the roadway here, or the path there. That’s where I was first made aware of the issue, as mayor, then wearing a different hat, when it came into my business. I felt the need to put it out there that this is an ongoing issue, and that people need to be careful.”

One of Butt’s biggest concerns is the safety of his employees. Although handling cases and bottles is par for the course when working at a gas station, Butt said he is urging his employees to take the extra time and double check the cases as they come in, and handle them with even more caution.

He is hoping that people will at least try and be a bit more conscious about what they do with leftover syringes. Butt noted there have been discussions at council about the potential for installing proper disposal containers around town. Ideally, the goal would be to install containers in some of the more common areas where needles are found.

Calls and messages are coming in about disposed syringes in all different areas of town, so the next piece of the puzzle is to decide which areas would ultimately be the most effective.

“We don’t encourage people to take care of the issue themselves, but we also don’t want them to be left there, so the best course of action is to make a call and inform the town of its whereabouts,” he said. “There are lots of kids around the community, and, I mean, kids don’t often know the difference. They might see a little orange cap, and when they touch it or pick it up, the consequences could potentially be long-lasting.”

Butt added it is not uncommon for syringes to be thrown into storm sewer drains.

This might be seen as a better alternative to leaving them in public, however, Butt said it is still jeopardizing people’s safety.

“It’s better than them being on the street, sure, but the issue there is that when Town employees need to go into the storm sewer to do maintenance or whatever, well, they’re then going to be exposed to the same hazard,” he said. “It’s just about safety, at the end of the day. Do the right thing and dispose of these syringes properly.”

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