Old syringes, medical debris found along the Willamette

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- A prospector from Dorena came across a dump site while panning for gold on the coastal fork of the Willamette River.

"I want to keep kids out of the river from this point down because I don't want any of them getting stabbed by needles," said Dorena prospector Lonnie Marsh on Friday.

Marsh, a Cottage Grove resident for the last 20 years, said he was looking for gold on the riverbank in Cottage Grove when he found old syringes, glass bottles, metal instruments and even false teeth.

"It just needs to be sucked up out of here and brought to a disposal site where nobody gets sick or hurt," said Lonnie Marsh at the site Friday morning."Somebody who knows what they're doing needs to get in here and clean this up."

Marsh said he has collected five buckets worth of debris from the site just north of City Hall in Cottage Grove.

After taking pictures of what Marsh had found along the river's edge, KVAL News contacted the city manager's office - who in turn called police.

Cottage Grove Chief of Police Mike Grover came out to the site and said he has a theory about where the material could have originated.

"There was a doctor's office to our left over there," said Grover as he pointed to a newer building just feet away from the dump site on Friday, "and there was a dentist's office just one street over. But that was back in the 50's, and I think they've since gone away, of course."

Grover, who has lived in Cottage Grove since 1950, said people used to dump almost anything they didn't want anymore straight into the river.

"They threw a lot of stuff in the river in those days to get rid of it," he said. "Wherever it ended it up, it ended up."

Grover said he has forwarded the complaint to the public works department in Cottage Grove for possible cleanup.