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Town of Southampton Launches Medicine Disposal Program at Local Senior Centers

Priscilla Korb
Southampton Patch

The Town of Southampton recently announced that they have launched “Operation Medicine Cabinet – Senior Safety Days” at three local Senior Centers in Bridgehampton, Flanders and Hampton Bays.

The program, which is for seniors who participate in the Town’s Senior Services Program and their caregivers, began on June 11 at the Hampton Bays Senior Center.

The next two drop-off days will be on July 2 at the David Crohan Center in Flanders and August 6th at the Bridgehampton Center and rotate on the first Thursday of every month thereafter.

All drop-off days will be held from 10 a.m. until noon.

Those that would like to participate will be asked to place the medications in clear sealed bags. Plastic bags will also be available at all sites.

The program was created by Councilwoman Bridget Fleming in conjunction with the Town’s Senior Services Program, working with the Department of Senior Services and the Southampton Town Police Department in order to collect controlled substances, prescription medications, unwanted medications and over-the-counter medications that are no longer needed or have passed their expiration date in order to dispose them in a safe way.

Previously, unwanted pharmaceuticals were disposed of by flushing them, which ended up in the local drinking water since Long Island residents rely on groundwater for 100 percent of the drinking water.

In 2002, the US Geological Survey found trace amounts of antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80 percent of the water they tested.

“With the impairment of our waters becoming an increasingly important focus of attention, we must take all steps possible to reduce the impact of contamination in our sole source aquifer, and our surface waters,” Fleming said. “In addition, we must act to reduce the chance of unwanted medications falling into the wrong hands, resulting in dangerous accidents or abuse.”

The program was created by the Suffolk County Police Department in 2010 in order to to address the environmental and public health concerns due to the abuse of prescription medication and the improper disposal of medications.

In Southampton Town, the Police Department already maintains receptacles where residents can anonymously drop off unwanted medications, which are then safely disposed of offsite.

“Operation Medicine Cabinet illustrates our Department’s commitment to keeping all of our citizens safer, protecting our young people from the harmful misuse of prescription drugs, understanding the needs of our seniors, and the environmental consequences related to improper disposal of medications,” Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce said. “The program has received overwhelming support from the community, other law enforcement agencies, our seniors and environmental groups.”

For more information contact Councilwoman Fleming at 631-287-5745., Property and Evidence Officer Theresa Tedesco at 631-702-2254 or Pam Giacoia at 631- 728-1235.