Lorraine Shaab, a frequent visitor to our pages at ‘Save Our Skibbereen’ wrote to us recently about the scourge of Plastic Nurdles on their coastline at Wellington, New Zealand.
In 2014, the issue of nurdles at Evans Bay beach, Wellington, New Zealand, Lorraine writes, was brought to the attention of the Wellington city council. We where told in a news article the matter would be investigated. Subsequently, the plastic manufacturer in question was issued a warning notice by the council.
Moving forward 4 years the amount of nurdles has increased not only at Evans bay but at 4 other beach areas in the Wellington region that have now been found to be contaminated. We have 13 plastic manufacturers in the region and we found nurdles outside 4 of these factories. The others were too securely fenced to allow access.
One manufacturer, IML Plastics, publicly admitted on national TV that they were inadvertently spilling nurdles down drains. This happened because we took photos of the spillages to the national media to show them exactly what was happening. A New Zealand news program ‘Fair Go’ featured myself and an IML Plastic representative where they continued to state that they were 99.9% happy with their housekeeping practices, their handling of nurdles and their cleaning up of spills.
After the ‘Fair Go’ story , a plastic manufacturer contacted me and said he would like to help clean up the nurdle mess. He approached Plastics New Zealand (PNZ) who he is not a member of (members pay to belong to the group) and asked if they would fund $2500 to make 10 wheelie bins filters . One member said no to the funding so it fell through. He funded the bins himself. Since then, PNZ have contributed a donation of $1000 NZ ( €550 ) for new bins.
TV News report, 1 News Now from TVNZ, on the Filter Bins – click audio for sound.
When we used the bins on sunday last, August 26th, we removed 200kg of nurdles from the gravel roadside of the beach in 5 hours . We did not manage to start on the beach area that is riddled with nurdles. Our councils tell us as long as a plastic manufacturers works with them to fix problems they will not be fined. We put pressure on the council and IML Plastics installed filters in the council drains outside their building.
So to date, this is where we are at and to most of us, it seems to be getting worse and not better.
Further news reports from New Zealand highlight the scale of the problem and how much is being left to volunteers to clean up a mess caused by Plastic Nurdle Factories. Once spilled, these nurdles are so hard to clean up, that many people consider them to be worse than an oil spill.
The lesson for Skibbereen and West Cork is that if this factory opens, you can be assured of finding plastic nurdles on our coasts, in our streams and rivers, and just about everywhere. They get spilled in transit, in on-loading and off-loading, and because they are shipped in by container to Cork Port and transported by truck on the N71, the consequences of a major spillage from a container or a truck as the result of an accident is unimaginable.