Verzameling industrieel plastic van Nederlands strand – Collection of industrial plastic granules from Dutch beach

Photo Credit: Cathy Sexton

Nurdles are back and this time in Algiers. Six months after the spill by a cargo ship into the Mississippi River, small scale clean ups have begun.

“This was the cleanest beach in the state,” said Scott Eustis, community science director for Healthy Gulf, while standing on the levee at Algiers Point on Monday. After several cleanups, most of them done by volunteers with buckets and hand tools, almost no nurdles were visible on the point’s sandy batture. “But on Jan. 17, there were fresh pellets. Every time the river rises and falls, we get a new swath here.”

This onslaught of nurdles is probably not from a spill from a vessel but rather due to the seasonal rise and fall of the river. Nurdles which had been stuck in materials along the river bank have been loosened and floated back into the waterway. Also large bags of nurdles which again were stuck in objects along the shore may have burst spewing the nurdles out into the river stream.

“The rising river has basically re-mobilized the nurdles,” he said. “And the fact that we’re seeing them in New Orleans means these new ones are coming from close to the spill site.”

While this spill can’t be traced to the spill six months ago, the nurdles look like those from that spill in the French Quarter. Tougher laws need to be enacted to enable going after companies, such as CMA CGM who was responsible for the initial spill. THere is an online petition for this and the local council representative, New Orleans City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, is meeting with Healthy Gulf and the Humane Society.

“It’s too late for this spill,” Eustis said. “The rules must change, and plastics manufacturing must be regulated better before we have more spills.”

Nurdles! Again!