Thursday, August 09, 2012

The perils of plastic pellets

Following the aftermath of Typhoon Vincent this week, the worst typhoon to hit Hong Kong in 15 years, hundreds of 25kg plastic sacks filled with pre-production plastic pellets (aka Nurdles) produced by SINOPEC Petroleum Hainan are now washing up on the beaches of Hong Kong. 
So far we have discovered 250 plus sacks, of which approximately 50% have spilled their deadly contents into the ecosystem. This is the equivalent of a SOLIDIFIED OIL SPILL. Each sack contains approximately 1 million pellets. The 250 sacks were all on our local beach, we have put out a call to action asking ocean lovers all over Hong Kong to visit their local beaches and check them for these "white plastic sacks of death," and if found to report them to Sea Shepherd Hong Kong who are working with local authorities on the cleanup operation. The biggest problem is that this material absorbs toxins and pollutants, turning it a yellowish brown color. The darker the pellet becomes the more toxic it is. Small fish, birds, and even large filter feeding species such as whales, whale sharks, and manta rays eat these pellets, mistaking them for fish eggs. Once eaten, the animals become toxic and often die. Bigger fish eat the small fish and this continues up the food chain, spreading the toxicity into seafood that will end up on our tables for human consumption.
Just finished reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. One of the book's chapters addresses the horror of the many plastic gyres in the oceans... and the small toxic glop that is poisoning the marine life. Can we possibly fix this problem before we kill off everything? We can only wait and see.... Update: It is suggested that plastics could be linked to diabetes and obesity.

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