MSC Zoe Aftermath: Millions of Plastic Granules Washed Up on Beaches

MSC Zoe container spill in North SeaImage Courtesy: Havariekommando; Kustwacht

Researchers have estimated that well over 24 million of plastic granules have washed up in the eastern Wadden area following the MSC Zoe container spill in early January.

According to a research from the University of Groningen (UG), the North Sea beach of Dutch island Schiermonnikoog seems to be the hotspot for plastic granules that have washed ashore, with the highest concentration of granules – about 268 granules per square metre on average.

Schiermonnikoog is closely followed by the Groningen Wadden coast and the beaches of the uninhabited islands of Rottumeroog and Rottumerplaat.

The University of Groningen informed that the clean-up operation on Schiermonnikoog was scheduled to start this week.

MSC Zoe lost up to 345 containers while battling heavy weather in the North Sea on January 2. At the time, the ultra large container vessel, owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), was on its way to Bremerhaven, Germany.

Following the incident, a lot of litter washed ashore on Schiermonnikoog, Ameland, Terschelling, Vlieland and the Frisian/Groningen coast. While the larger items could be disposed of relatively easily and quickly, there are still many small plastic polystyrene and HDPE granules at the high water mark, the University of Groningen said.

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