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

Turned over truck impedes traffic in Langford

Truck at the side of Millstream Road near Western Speedway

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 101 km/h in a construction zone

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read