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

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

B.C.’s parliament buildings in Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
Surrey gets two cabinet ministers, a parliamentary secretary and government whip

Premier John Horgan’s NDP MLAs were sworn in on Tuesday and the cabinet was revealed Thursday afternoon

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Brenda Locke trying to breathe life into Surrey’s defunct Public Safety Committee

Surrey councillor’s motion will be up for debate at a future council meeting

The Festival of Lights; Jingle Bell White Rock; and the Lighted Boat Parade all helped light up the White Rock waterfront on Saturday, Dec. 7. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Festival of Lights postponed

While event founder remains optimistic, the future of this year’s display is uncertain

RCMP logo
Keen-eyed neighbour’s call to police helps stop South Surrey burglary in progress

Mounties were on the way before suspects triggered home alarm

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon was sworn in as minister of minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation by B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin and Premier John Horgan during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Province of BC/YouTube screen shot)
BREAKING: Kahlon named minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation

Kahlon was sworn in by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 26

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby comes home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read