Coast KZN

31 Mar 2021

Nurdle clean-up halted

Zainul Dawood (Daily News: IOL) Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA. Nurdles are tiny with rounded edges and pose a threat to ocean life because fish consume them since they look like food.

DURBAN – The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced on Tuesday that they have concluded the collection of nurdles along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. Approximately 70% of nurdles were reported to have been collected to date.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said two 40-foot containers fell into the water from a ship moored in the Durban port during a storm in October 2017. The damaged containers spilled about 49 tons of nurdles into the bay.

SAMSA had issued a directive for the collection of the plastic nurdles in October 2017. Spokesperson Tebogo Ramatjie said the decision to stop the collection took into account the law of diminishing returns. They decided that the amount of nurdles collected during the last inspection between December 11 and 12, 2020 did not provide sufficient justification to continue with the recovery operation.

“All affected areas where nurdles were collected will be inspected and monitored. SAMSA also reserves the right to instruct the responsible party to conduct further clean ups should there be a need following the monitoring,” Ramatjie said.

The sea tides carried the nurdles as far as Cape Town.

According to uShaka Sea World’s education director Jone Porter, the particles that washed up on Durban beaches were actually an industrial raw material. They are usually remelted and moulded in factories to make plastic products.

Greenpeace Africa spokesperson Angelo Louw said the South Africa government refused to engage on the proposal of a single-use plastic ban, “which was disappointing because 35 other countries have seen the need and adopted measures to stop the plastic pollution crisis”.

“Our activists have made several attempts to make them aware of the destruction the plastic not only causes to our environment, but to our physical health, with no success,” he said.

Louw said Greenpeace Africa has been involved in the global discussion on an oceans treaty, which looked to protect a third of the world’s oceans by 2030.

“Once adopted, leaders around the world will be required to put measures such as plastic bans in place to meet the global commitment. Today people all over the world are supporting the Global Day of Action to demand that their leaders commit to eradicating single-use plastic.”