Written by Zulfick Farzan
01 Dec, 2021 | 9:45 am
COLOMBO (News 1st); The X-Press Pearl Tragedy resulted in the spillage of an estimated 70-75 billion pellets of preproduction plastic material, known as nurdles, into the Sea of Sri Lanka and along the Sri Lankan coastline.
This was highlighted in a study published in the Environmental Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The study added that because the properties of the unburnt and burnt nurdles are different, the spill almost amounts to two separate spills that potentially call for different clean-up strategies.
The study notes that the fire increased the chemical complexity of the plastics up to three-fold, and that burnt nurdles could “camouflage among natural materials” and could break into even smaller pieces because of their brittleness.
The key messages of the study include the fact that some of the burnt nurdles don’t even look like plastic anymore, and that this should be considered during the clean-up.
The study suggested building an international collaboration in a time of crisis to work faster to get the answers that are crucial for supporting the recovery efforts.
The study highlighted the fact while there have been massive releases of nurdles from container ships in the past, the X-Press Pearl Tragedy was different.
It added, unlike previous nurdle spills, this spill released burnt plastic, which is a type of litter that has only recently been documented in the ocean.
Researchers have noted that burnt plastic poses uncertainties for response activities, its fate and transport, and its potential impact on wildlife.
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