Plastic Pollution is a major threat to all forms of Marine Life, and the latest instance of a spill of tiny plastic pellets (nurdles) from a shipping container during transportation is a major ecological disaster. The container fell from the ship in the port of Durban in South Africa, and billions of the pellets are washing up on the coast. The spill is spread over nearly 1200 Km and is a threat to the region that has an abundance of wildlife.

Sky News reports that nearly 49 tonnes of these nurdles were in the container that went over the side due to a sudden hurricane when two ships tore from their moorings and collided.

The container with the pellets was the casualty of this natural disaster.

Facts of the case

The incident was the result of a sudden hurricane that struck Durban and ripped the ships from their moorings. The disorderly winds played havoc and led to a collision between two vessels. The result was the mishap with a container that fell in the water. It was loaded with the pellets and resulted in large scale plastic pollution. It was an ecological disaster, and the environment agencies came on the scene to begin the cleanup operation with the locals. South Africa's Maritime Safety Authority admitted that this was a new development for them. They are knowledgeable in handling oil spills or explosives, but plastic pellets were totally new.

So far only 11 tonnes of pellets have been recovered, and the threat to marine life remains.

Seriousness of the problem

Nurdles are plastic pellets that are used to manufacture a large variety of plastic products from bags to dolls. These nurdles are just another commodity that is shipped all over the world and, in due course of time, land up as non-biodegradable litter that does not get absorbed by nature.

Their final resting place are the oceans, and they endanger marine life in all forms. This plastic pollution not only kills marine animals and birds but also destroys the environment.

The present spill falls in the category of an ecological disaster because it is virtually impossible to clean this up. The pellets will remain till eternity which is a serious threat to all living beings in the region.

In the opinion of environmentalists, the clean-up would be a longtime process with only 11 tonnes recovered so far out of 49. The effect on marine and bird life could be disastrous because they could mistake these items as edible substances and pay the price with their lives.