15 More Medical Vials Wash Ashore

At least 15 medical vials, possibly containing penicillin, washed ashore in Coronado on Tuesday, bringing to nearly 90 the number of vials found on San Diego County beaches in the past three days.

The two-inch glass bottles with rubber seals had no markings, said Coronado Police Lt. Bob Harrison. They were taken to the Navy Amphibious Base in Coronado, he said. Chief Petty Officer Martin Wicklund said the vials will be turned over to the Navy’s medical lab for testing.

The vials contained a white, powdery substance similar to that found in the other 73 vials, Wicklund said.

Gary Stephany, environmental health director for the county Department of Health Services, said a laboratory confirmed on Tuesday that vials turned over to the county on Monday contained penicillin.


Between 20 and 30 of the vials were turned over to the health department Monday morning, and 40 more were found on Silver Strand Beach later in the day. Three more were found in Imperial Beach. On Sunday, six vials washed up on Ocean Beach.

“It’s logical that they came from a boat or ship, but there are different kinds of boats and ships,” he said. “Because of the 15-mile span between the beaches, it doesn’t make sense that someone dumped them on one beach and they drifted ashore on another beach.

“They could have come from freight ships, cruise lines, or Navy ships. Unless a marking is found to trace the source of the contents, there is no way to find out where they came from. It looks like they all came from one bag,” he said.

Last May, a wave of medically related waste, including a bundle of cardboard tags apparently used in military medical records, were found in North County. However, federal prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges, and investigators were unable to trace the origin of most of the waste.