Plastic trash, including small pellets called nurdles, are washing up on B.C. shorelines. (Surfrider Vancouver)

‘Outrageous’: Environmental group urges action from B.C. on plastic pellets in waterways

Plastic pellets are being eaten by fish, birds, turtles

An environmental group is asking the province to take stronger measures after thousands of plastic pellets washed up on the shores of the Fraser River in Delta.

Amine Korch, chair of the Vancouver chapter of Surfrider, said two researchers were out at Annacis Island this weekend.

“Their findings, especially after the heavy rain we’ve seen, was that there’s still quite a bit of spill happening in that area,” Korch told Black Press Media by phone Monday.

The researchers were specifically looking at Audley Channel, a drainage channel on Annacis Island. The pellets, called nurdles, are about five millimetres in diameter and go on to be made into plastic items like bottles, containers and lids.

Korch said the pellets end up in the environment mainly through transportation.

“There is a large concentration around train tracks, outside the warehouses, around the storm drains in those areas,” he said.

“As a result of the storm drainage, they end up in this channel. Once they end up in the Fraser River, it’s really just storms and winds that make them travel all over the area.”

All it would take, Korch noted, is for the companies or government to install storm drain covers to keep the pellets out.

Korch said the nurdle-watching project, which started on Vancouver Island, has reported the small pellets around the island’s coast and as far up as the Sunshine Coast.

And while they are ugly when they wash up, Korch said there’s a much bigger issue.

“It ends up being eaten by fish,” he said. “We have reports of people fishing in the Fraser River and the salmon that they find… they find a bunch of pellets inside. They’re not even safe for consumption.”

Birds, turtles and a lot of marine wildlife ingest them as well, he said.

Korch declined to name the companies on Annacis Island that produced these plastic pellets, but said there are a few right beside the Audley Channel.

He said he also wants to see a better spill response, as when liquids are dumped into waterways.

“It’s a bit outrageous,” he said. “There’s a lot of response to [a liquids spill]: There’s cleaning teams, people install booms… but when it comes to these plastic pellets, there’s almost no response to it.”

The researchers report their findings in letters to the province and to its RAPP line, he said, urging anyone who finds the pellets along waterways or near storm drains to do the same by calling 1-877-952-7277.

A map of where the researchers find pellets can be found here: http://maps.library.uvic.ca/NurdlesSwBCdraft.html#8/49.958/-124.683.

Black Press Media has reached out to the environment ministry and the City of Delta for comment.

READ MORE: Humans unknowingly eat 100,000 particles of plastic per year, says new UVic study

READ MORE: Plastics ban coming after Environment Canada science review backs need


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Plastic waste

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

Cascadia Seaweed is experiencing rapid growth after launching six months ago

Westin Bear Mountain invests $2 million to renovate newly-named spa

‘Amatista Spa’ has yet to announce official opening date

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

HarbourCats team up with Bastion Books to bring back Harvey’s Reading Club

HarbourCats and Bastions Books offer students free game tickets in an effort to promote child literacy

Central Saanich newspaper carrier gets letter of thanks, chocolates from her community for note

Ava Verscheure started her first very job by introducing herself to residents along newspaper route

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read