Ocean Garbage Dump Filled With Plastic

Every test of ocean water 400 miles off shore found traces of plastic

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Project Kaisei
    Even teddy bears find their way to the trash vortex. The team found "Lucky" on a ghost net, protecting his turf, but waiting to be rescued.

    If you're going to go to the trouble sailing 3,000 miles to the center of what many refer to as the ocean's garbage dump, to collect said garbage for science and study, it's not a major stretch to imagine you'd like to see change. Not a stretch at all.
     
    The crew of Project Kaisei spent a month at sea visiting a place that's so polluted, it has a whole list of unflattering names. Among them, "Plastic Vortex" and "North Pacific Gyre."

    It's a place where the world's currents converge, depositing an international collection of assorted debris.

    Among the discards recovered by the group; a sake bottle, a one-ton fishing net, plastic containers used to collect garbage and a plastic water bottle.

    But the most concerning find wasn't the big chunks of cast off plastic from as far away as Asia, it was the micro-sized bits of plastic that turned up in everything from water samples to sea birds.

    The group has discovered it's one thing to recover junk, and another to figure out how to stop it.
     
    California officials says the group's findings are troubling and that action has to be taken. But rather than drive home an anti-littering message to the public, officials say they plan to target manufacturers.

    Maziar Movassaghi,acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, says manufacturers need to use safer chemicals and materials that break down at sea.

    "If it's a bottle it should be dissolvable in the ocean without impacting the environment," said Mavassaghi. "If it's a product with gasses coming off, those gasses shouldn't be poisonous."

    Mavassaghi says new regulations that could slow the slew of toxic garbage ending up in the ocean are making their way through the state legislature.

    Lawmakers are considering a bill to ban Styrofoam containers in the state. A ban on toxic plastic is also in the works. Lawmakers are also considering tacking on a consumer fee for plastic grocery bags.

    Project Kaisei says the amount of plastic in the ocean is rising rapidly. During its month-long journey, the Sausalito-based group began running tests on ocean water once it reached 400 miles offshore. The group says every test turned up traces of plastic.