Coast KZN

17 Dec 2017

#Nurdles: Clean-up operations continue into New Year

Kamcilla Pillay (The Mercury)

Plastic pellets, which are called ‘nurdles’, spilled along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline in October and pose a great danger to marine animals and birds.

Durban Harbour “nurdle” clean-up operations will continue into the New Year.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said in a statement on Friday that the clean-up was being led by Nick Sloane of Resolve Marine Group, a salvage and emergency response company, and was working closely with South African company Drizit.

The nurdles which had turned up on local beaches, they explained, were pea-sized pre-production plastic pellets used to make every day household objects such as plastic cups and paddling pools.

“They were being transported in two shipping containers which fell into the water during normal discharge operations on October 10.”

The containers, they explained, had been “particularly vulnerable” at that time, as they had been loosened for unloading, in line with standard port operations procedures, when the hurricane-force winds, torrential rains and flash-floods hit the port of Durban and surrounding region in what amounted to a provincial disaster.

“The remaining assessment and clean-up of the harmful on South African beaches will continue into 2018.”

The company had been assessing beaches via light aircraft and drone surveillance, in vehicles and on foot, and deploying teams where appropriate to extract the nurdles.

“Due to the weather, ocean currents and tidal movements, nurdles have appeared gradually since the storm and certain beaches have been re-charged after the initial cleaning.

Picture: Geoff Brink

The teams have worked tirelessly from 4.30am each day to scour the coastline to the north and south of Durban, as far as Port Elizabeth.”

The teams had used boat patrols, dive teams, industrial vacuums, spades and giant sieves to locate and extract the nurdles.

“During the Christmas holiday period efforts are being focused away from the crowds at popular beaches in order to be as efficient as possible.”