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What is a nurdle, you ask?
Well, my friend, a nurdle is a small moon-shaped pre-plastic pellet used by industries as a raw material in the manufacture of plastic products.
They arrived on the shores after Durban’s massive storm last month, which saw more than one container ship break free from its mooring in the harbour.
One such ship lost its load, and, according to Daily Maverick, at least two “severely ruptured containers of plastic pellets (nurdles) fell overboard and was allegedly left submerged in the harbour for almost 24 hours”.
Once recovered, however, the containers allegedly (above) sat uncovered on a Transnet jetty, allowing for further leakage of nurdles into the port, reports News24.
“They each contained 990 bags of low and high density polyethylene (plastic pellets) packed in 25kg bags. The total tonnage lost is estimated to be 49 tons,” said DEA spokesperson Zolile Nqayi.
This is just one example the bags contained. Although the plastic pellets aren’t toxic, once released into “the marine environment they attract harmful substances (pathogens) that can have negative impacts on marine species including seabirds and turtles which mistake the pellets for food”.
Within a day, millions of little moon-shaped nurdles started washing up on Durban’s beaches. There is a possibility that nurdles have contaminated the coast as far north as Richards Bay and have also entered the south-flowing Agulhas current.
A little map to show you the extent of the Agulhas current, which could bring the nurdles down to the Cape.
And this is a map, from Coast KZN, which shows where nurdles have been found so far – yup, all the way down to Hartenbos Beach, near Mossel Bay.
One of the world’s biggest petrochemical companies, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), will foot the bill for clean-up operations following a massive spillage of raw plastic pellets in KwaZulu-Natal waters. So says Plastics SA’s sustainability director, Douw Steyn, who has been engaging with Sabic representatives in the wake of the recent Durban harbour cargo spill.
Overall, three containers from the MSC Ines were lost in the water. It’s cases like this that exemplify how important it is to get marine insurance when transporting goods, as you never know when – or what – disaster will strike.
One local freight company with the expertise and buying power to get the best rates from A-rated underwriters is Berry & Donaldson. They ensure the best possible cargo cover for their clients at cost effective prices.
But maritime insurance is just the tip of the cargo ship when it comes to the services that Berry & Donaldson provides.
With over 50 years of operations, their freight-forwarding services, whether airfreight or sea freight, full containers or part-containers, breakbulk or perishable cargo, has all the experience in dealing with international logistics operators.
If you find yourself coming across a nurdle or tens of hundreds of thousands of millions, then try pick them up.