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Accidental release of plastic pellets in the North Sea

June 12th 2020

Accidental release of plastic pellets in the North Sea – Norway have initiated a Governmental environmental response

The vessel “Trans Carrier” was on route between Rotterdam and Stavanger in Norway from February 22 to February 23. Outside the coast of Denmark they came into a heavy storm were one the containers was ruptured. When they were aware of the rupture, they identified that there had been a spill of plastic pellets, but the quantity was assumed to be limited. Because of this, they reported a limited release to Norwegian authorities. Later it was verified that the release was about 13,3 tons.

From March 15, there was several observations of plastic pellets on some shorelines on the south east coast of Norway. Through March it was detected plastic pellets on several new locations, see map. Because of this, local authorities and NGO’s started clean-up of plastic pellets.

Because of the fact that a large area was polluted and many local and regional Governmental institutions were involved, it was decided that the clean-up should be organized by Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA). The reason for this is that NCA is responsible the Governmental Environmental Response. From May 7, the clean-up was organized as a Governmental response were the local authorities and NGOs received plans and orders from NCA.

As per June 12, about 700 positions are identified as polluted by plastic pellets. These positions will be verified during week 24 and areas with large quantities of plastic pellets will be given priority for response. There are also observations on the west coast of Sweden. NCA is sharing experiences with Swedish authorities through regularly meeting.

Up to date about 2,7 tons have been collected and it is expected that the clean-up will continue throughout this year. The protected areas will be cleaned after the breeding season ends in August. During the clean-up the responders will also collect other plastic waste on the shorelines.