Emergency response team confirms more than 1 million nurdles picked up from south-west beaches

Nurdles photographed at Warrnambool's Shelly Beach on November 21. Picture: Sian Johnson
Nurdles photographed at Warrnambool's Shelly Beach on November 21. Picture: Sian Johnson

More than 1 million tiny plastic pellets, known as nurdles, have been picked up from south-west beaches since a spill in mid-November that has been declared an emergency.

Approximately 19 million more nurdles – 750 litres – were removed from inside the Warrnambool Sewage Treatment Plant by water corporation Wannon Water.

The clean-up has been led by volunteers through the Good Will Nurdle Hunting Facebook page, but a multi-agency team of 24 was set up last week after the incident was declared a class two emergency.

The joint incident management team is coordinating clean-up efforts and providing daily updates.

A dead dolphin washed up near the Surf Life Saving Club in Port Fairy on Monday morning and an autopsy will be conducted, however, a statement from the team said it was confident the mammal’s death was not related to the nurdle spill.

Nurdles are about three millimetres in diameter and used in the manufacturing of plastic products.

The Environment Protection Authority and Wannon Water are investigating the spill.

The safety of threatened hooded plovers, who have young on the coastline this time of year, has been raised amid the clean-up.

“All field crew have been briefed that not distubring these sites is a priority for this incident,” a statement from the emergency management team said.

Monday’s clean-up efforts were focused on Port Fairy’s East Beach and Warrnambool’s Shelly Beach and Logans Beach, with crews out between 1pm to 3pm.

The team has developed a nurdle collection information sheet.