Update: No Plan In Place As Of Yet To Deal With Micro Plastics Following Nurdle Apperance Along Texas Coast
Nurdles that began washing up in early October 2018 (Jace Tunnell)
Nearly a week after tiny beads known as nurdles began washing up along beaches throughout the Texas Coastal Bend, it seems that the peak of this event may have been reached.
Observers say that they have seen numbers stabilize and that the amount of nurdles on area beaches does not seem to be increasing, and that is good news for those involved in the research and clean up of these lentil sized objects that are used in the manufacture of plastics.
According to Callan Price, Natural Resource Specialist with Nueces County Coastal Park says that they reached out to a few organizations to collaborate on finding some sort of action that can be taken collectively but the scale of the issue means even big clean up efforts may only make a very small difference.
“So far there is not an effective plan in place to deal with nurdles, and the abundance of micro plastics in general" Mrs. Price said on Friday during an interview.
Neil Larson, a concerned citizen was out on his own Friday morning cleaning up nurdles and debris, a ritual that he does nearly every Friday.
“It’s an impossible task but I feel like I have to do something” says Mr. Larson while carrying a bucket of trash that he had collected Friday. “What makes it harder is that yesterday they came and grated the beach and that only covers up these little beads and I’m afraid that just covers up the problem.”
Mrs. Price did say that the grating operations are usually preplanned and the city of Corpus Christi routinely conducts such operations along various sections of beach.
Last Friday, beachgoers noticed high concentrations of these tiny nurdles washing ashore and that has many people concerned.
“I’ve never seen them here like this” said Janice Tabor, who calls Port Aransas her home. “I’ve seen them in much smaller numbers, but not like this.”
Though it is unclear exactly where these nurdles came from, Brian McGovern with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said in a statement this week that they were investigating two incidents in the area near Point Comfort, Texas not far from where these pre-production pellets came ashore.
Steve Rice, a spokesperson with Formosa USA, one of the manufacturers in the area who uses these nurdles in their processes, did say that there had been a problem with hatches or doors on rail cars being left open which would allow discharge of these plastic pellets into area waterways, though they claimed no responsibility for any incident in particular.
Investigations are ongoing into the origins of these particular nurdles however, it may prove to be very difficult to trace back.
This is part of an ongoing series “Saving The Gulf”