Lost Shipping Containers – plastic pollution hazard

The loss of up to 50 shipping containers now polluting the NSW east coast should be treated as a hazardous pollution event with consequent large fines to help with cleanup, Total Environment Centre and the Boomerang Alliance said today.

The APL England cargo ship lost 40 containers in rough seas off the NSW coast.

“Our members are reporting foam packaging and small and large pieces of plastic on beaches and in the water.  These are all highly hazardous as they break up into microplastics that are eaten by marine life, killing it and entering the human food chain’’, said Jeff Angel, Director of the Centre and Alliance.

‘’This is a major pollution event and the full force of our environment protection laws should be brought to bear.  The cleanup will take some months; it will be expensive and we urge Fisheries and the EPA to make sure they stay the course and employ sufficient staff to help clean it up.’’

“Undoubtedly plastic debris will continue to wash up – it’s unsightly, dangerous and will add to the already unacceptable plastic pollution load in our oceans.  Governments need to vigorously pursue  policies to reduce these long term hazards including bans on single use items that end up as litter,’’ Mr Angel said.

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