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Plastic Waste Taking Toll on Beaches, Pacific Ocean

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Two San Diego environmental groups are saying 80-percent of the trash washed up on San Diego beaches last year was made of plastic. Reporter David Nogueras has more.

Twice a month, San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation organize beach cleanups throughout San Diego County. Beginning last year, they asked their volunteers to fill out surveys about what they found.

The groups say that volunteers picked up more 3 and a half tons of trash in San Diego County, most of it plastic products and cigarette butts.

Danielle Miller is with San Diego Coastkeeper. She says the problem of plastics in the ocean isn't just specific to San Diego.

She describes a giant soup of plastic swirling in the Pacific Ocean.

Miller:  Past studies have shown this island to be twice the size of texas, more recently I'm hearing statistics from scientists that's more like twice the size of the continental United States.

Miller says there are currently 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square mile of the ocean.

For KPBS, I'm David Nogueras.

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