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New Law Aims to Reduce Plastic Marine Trash

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Aired 4/19/09

Manufacturers will now be required to prevent tiny plastic pellets used in packaging from spilling into California waterways. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has more on the bill signed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

They're called nurdles -- tiny plastic pellets used in making plastic products. The pellets spill out of containers and wind up in the ocean and inland waterways. Birds, fish and other marine life are killed when they mistake the nurdles for food.

Sarah Abramson is a scientist with Heal the Bay , which helped sponsor the legislation.

Abramson : We have this plastic plague in the ocean not just nurdles but lots of other marine debris that's largely comprised of plastic that's threatening marine life by entanglement and ingestion.

Beginning in January 2009 all plastic product manufacturers in the state will be required to use safer transportation and storage methods to prevent pellet spillage. Abramson says some companies have already adopted those practices.

The State Water Resources Control Board is responsible for increased regulation and monitoring of companies that use nurdles.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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