Heroin needles are being found in popular swimming spots along a Welsh river, a dad has warned.
Drug paraphernalia, including needles, has been reported inches away from where children play in Ogmore River in Bridgend.
Dad-of-three Mark Ryan said he was with his youngest son on a school trip to Newbridge Fields when he spotted a needle poking out of the sand.
But he claims the problem has become a regular sight in other beauty spots in the area due to needles flowing down the river from the town centre.
Mr Ryan, who is also director of Ogmore Angling Association, said: “I went on a school trip with my youngest son and we went to Newbridge Fields to find fish and one of the first things I found was a needle poking through the sand.
“If I hadn’t pushed him out of the way it could have gone into his finger. It was there in the sand and the sand can get covered.
“The teacher wasn’t aware of the problem.”
The angling association, which has 350 members, meets around six times a year to clean the Ogmore River.
This year they have also found human excrement and rusted trolleys in areas including under Water Street Bridge and near the Dipping Bridge in Merthyr Mawr.
He said: “It’s a constant flow. There are two main areas that are used non-stop for drug addicts and the main one is just under Water Street bridge which is opposite the council buildings.
“Under the bridge there are needles everywhere, they throw them over the side so they land either in the river or on the walkway.
“You wouldn’t think it but needles float as they have an air bubble in them. They usually come to rest in back eddies or bends and the needles settle in the most highly-used areas so we are talking about Newbridge Fields and the Dipping Bridge.”
The Broadlands dad has now urged parents to think twice before letting their children enter the river.
The 49-year-old said: “What’s concerning me is that no-one is aware of it. I would love to take my son out fishing but you can’t do that with the needles.
“It’s got so bad that there have been reports of children getting ill after swimming at the Dipping Bridge.
“Merthyr Mawr is a beautiful place. It should be a nice environment for kinds to go and do stuff and dive off the bridge like everyone used to but I wouldn’t let my kids go near there at all let alone dive off the bridge.”
The group have called on Bridgend council to address issues with drug abuse in the area.
Mr Ryan said: “What is amazing is that Bridgend council are striving for 100% recycling rates and at the same time they are relying on fisherman to ensure people’s health and safety.
“Unfortunately if you don’t get them straight away trollies get washed to the weir where children jump in and when they rust and decompose they are very, very dangerous.
“The amount of plastic that is washed down the river could fill a skip. You have people pooing in the river, they are throwing everything into it.”
A spokesman for Bridgend council said: “Council staff regularly collect litter and rubbish and arrange for the safe removal of any potentially hazardous items that they may find in the course of their duties, but this does not include rivers or riverbanks as these remain the responsibility of Natural Resources Wales.
“The council works alongside a wide range of partner organisations to tackle issues related to drug use, mental health, homelessness and more.”
A spokesperson for Natural Resources Wales said concerns would be raised at a meeting with Bridgend council on Thursday, but stressed the body does not have a lead role on the “complex issue.”
They said: “NRW has an interest because of our water regulatory role but the interventions required to tackle the problem lie elsewhere.”