Hong Kong’s Massive Nurdle Spill

Hong Kong’s Massive Nurdle Spill

Hong Kong, August 9, 2012, Plastic Bag Ban Report - On July 23rd, Typhoon Vicente stormed through Hong Kong and the South China Sea. When the storm was over, residents discovered something never seen before.

Massive Nurdle Spill in Hong Kong on July 23, 2012.

The beaches looked as if snow had fallen. White granules of plastic resin pellets, also known as nurdles, were every where. What had caused the nurdles to cover the beaches?

As the typhoon raged through the area, it disembarked six cargo containers from a freighter ship that was in the South China Sea. Each of those cargo containers was carrying tons of nurdles heading for a plastic manufacturing plant somewhere.

Capt. Charles Moore of Algalita Marine Research Center described the nurdle spill as "the worst plastic spill he has ever seen". The map shows some of the hardest hit areas of Hong Kong.

What is a Nurdle?
According to Wikipedia, Nurdles, also known as "mermaids' tears", are plastic pellets typically under five millimetres in diameter, and are a major component of marine debris. They are used as a raw material in plastics manufacturing, and are thought to enter the natural environment after accidental spillages. Small plastic fragments are also created by the physical weathering of larger plastic debris. Nurdles strongly resemble fish eggs.

Nurdles are made to be used in manufacturing plastic products. Nurdles should never be anywhere except in a plastic factory, yet they are often found in our oceans, on beaches, and even on land. Two questions: why? and how?

More Coverage
The sites listed here provide more coverage about the Hong Kong Massive Nurdle Spill of 2012.
DB Green
Sea Shepherd
Hong Kong Coast Watch

Cover photo: Nurdles. Credit: Paul L. Nettles.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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