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Plastic pellets now seen on beaches along TX coast

Posted at 3:41 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 19:37:49-04

In early October, hundreds of thousands of plastic pellets were found in the area of Bob Hall pier. Now the pellets are being seen in other beaches along the Texas coast.

This is how one beach-goer KRIS 6 spoke to described the plastic pellets. “It’s very small little pellets, like somebody opened a beanbag chair and all the little pellets got scattered along the beach,” she said.​​

The plastic pellets are used to manufacture plastic products. Their source has yet to be identified.

Jace Tunnell, who works for the Mission Aransas Reserve, has been monitoring the pellets since he first spotted them in early October. Tunnell has worked out a process to calculate how many plastic pellets there are on our beaches. He says it’s not an easy task.

“They’re so small and they’re mixed in with the other micro-plastics,” Tunnell said.

Tunnell’s latest count shows nearly 300,000 pellets per kilometer on some areas of the beach. However because of their size, the plastic pellets are difficult to remove.

According to TCEQ, they aren’t able to help. Meanwhile, the Nueces County Coastal Parks and Texas Parks and Wildlife don’t know how to clean it up. The Nueces County Coastal Parks also do not see an immediate threat at this time.

But Tunnell believes whoever is responsible for the spilling of the pellets, should help with the efforts.

“Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but they released these pellets into the environment,” Tunnell said. “Somebody needs to be held accountable and somebody needs to clean them up.”

Tunnell said he has shared his findings with other environmentalists in the state and in the gulf. Meanwhile, the plastic pellet problem continues to be a problem for beach-goers young and old.​

“The fact that there’s tiny bits of plastic everywhere is slightly concerning,” one beach-goer said. “You wouldn’t have expected it, to be honest.”

Tunnell also says he has been monitoring animals in the area. So far, there has not been any immediate impact.