VOLUNTEERS have cleared more than 40 kilos of waste from an East Lothian beauty spot as part of a regional beach clean event, including hundreds of potentially dangerous plastic pellets known as “nurdles”.
More than 40 local residents from Dunbar took to the sands on Sunday to rid the beach of problematic waste in an event organised by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage.
The pellets, a raw material of the plastics industry, have been known to absorb toxins from the sea and are often mistaken for food by marine life.
Dozens of plastic bottles, badly corroded metal piping and decaying concrete slabs were retrieved from the shoreline, while a traffic cone and a disused parasol were also among the objects recovered by volunteers.
The clean-up event, supported by wine company Barefoot Wine, attracted environmental enthusiasts from as far afield as the Borders to join in with its beach rescue project.
Brian Allen, East Lothian representative for Surfers Against Sewage, said the amount of waste the volunteers removed was “more than expected”.
He added: “The sad reality is that eight million pieces of litter enter the sea every day, but only 15 per cent of marine waste washes back up on the shore.
“Of the remaining 85 per cent, most of it sinks at sea and affects the marine environment for wildlife and the rest floats on the surface and is often mistaken as a source of food.
“Things like nurdles act as sponges and can absorb any pollutants or toxins in the sea. If fish eat these, then there is the possibility of them entering the food chain.
“In the past we’ve found everything from fishing equipment to tractor tyres. I remember once we found a can of shandy from 1986 that had obviously just been bobbing around in the water for 30 years.”
The charity has been running beach cleans in the area for more than ten years and has since branched out to beaches in Portobello, Musselburgh and Elie in Fife.
Sally Harris, leader of the Dunbar Surf Lifesaving Club, said protecting the beaches for human use was “just as important” as saving them for marine life.
“As a keen surfer, getting into the water and seeing that it and the beaches are pristine is hugely important,” she said.
“As a community, we have to take responsibility for the mess we create on our beaches.”
A spokesman for East Lothian Council said: “Our countryside service works closely with a number of groups to help reduce the degree of litter on our coastline.”
“We are extremely grateful for their help in taking pride in their local stretch of the shore and contributing to the wider programme of litter clearance that is undertaken by the council between May and September.”