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

OUR VIEW: Way too many Surrey COVID-19 cases

We all need to take this threat seriously

Horgan says Surrey mayor opened ‘hornets’ nest’ with Surrey policing transition

Surrey election battle heating up over Doug McCallum’s controversial cop transition

Semiahmoo Bottle Depot part of hybrid-electic compaction truck pilot program

Return-It launches program at 16 B.C. bottle depots with aim to reduce emissions

Horgan lambastes Liberal health record in Surrey

BCNDP leader attacks Andrew Wilkinson’s role in selling a potential hospital site here at a discount

OPINION: It’s Time for Surrey to be Heard

Which party will listen to Surrey voters?

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

Most Read