New world record for Tarragona : 1,8 million pellets found in 2 hours


Pellets are small spheres used as raw material in the manufacturing of almost all plastic items. For the past few weeks Spain has been drowning under these microplastics. From Tarragona to Barcelona down to Valencia, beaches in Spain are invaded by pellets. Follow our Surfrider Coastal Defenders in their fight to shed light on this invisible pollution. 

The campaign against pellets in Tarragona

Since 2018 the NGO Good Karma Projects sounds the alarm on the pellets invasion occurring in Tarragona. Joined by Surfrider with the Spanish Coastal Defenders, they aim at putting the hot topic of pellets at the heart of public debates.

Joint actions were carried out last summer between Surfrider Europe and Good Karma Projects with the Chasing Pellets Expedition. It already showed the importance of raising awareness on pellets pollution in order to pressure industry to adopt significant changes on the control of their value chain. This means putting all the effort on avoiding spills, as for now they only rely on a voluntary program called Operation Clean Sweep. But it is clearly not enough.

Contamination from plastic pellets would be the second most important source of primary microplastic contamination. But since the fight started 4 years ago, no responsibility was taken from the polluting industries, resulting in more and more pellets spills throughout the years.

Recently we broke all records with 1,8 million pellets found in only two hours on a surface of 200 square meters on the beach of La Pineda. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

© Good Karma Project

Seeking for justice

The pellet pollution in Tarragona, in Catalonia and even around Europe is known by local actors and decision makers at different levels. So why is it still happening?

Because no binding measure are taken and because court proceedings are long and expensive, the polluters win it all, and the spills continue. But we can be at a turning point. The local Environmental Police is now on the case as well. They are going to investigate and charge the responsible industries.

This should serve as an example because similar cases are on-going all-over Europe, in Belgium, the Netherlands or France. These are not isolated cases, and they are the proof that there are flaws in the current system framing the manufacturing and transport of pellets.

We need to put a stop to this pollution at its source and adopt measures at the EU level on pellets. Their small size should not be an excuse to put the problem they cause aside.

© Good Karma Project

Surfing for Science

When collecting pellets on the beach or in the sea we are only scratching the surface of the problem. But what is really hiding bellow?

Because of the limited attention given to the pellet issue, no significant measures are taken to monitor their presence, especially in natural and bathing areas. In practice, the chemical industry of Tarragona doesn’t have any data on their pellets loss.

That is why the project Surfing for Science is important. In partnership with the Faculty of Earth Sciences of the University of Barcelona, the Surfrider Barcelona chapter conducted a study on the presence of microplastics at the city beaches. The researches showed that the presence of microplastic in Catalan bathing areas exceed the averages recorded in the Mediterranean and in the world at certain times and periods of the year.

Even though it does not only focus on pellets, this project shows the importance of participatory science in raising awareness by gathering data. Even with small means, it is possible to show the extent of microplastic pollution.

Binding measures should be now taken to put a stop to this insidious pollution, otherwise, it will continue its course and spread even faster than it already is.

If you want to help us in our fight to preserve our Ocean against polluting giants, you can join the Coastal Defenders movement. By acting on the field you can alert on any kind of harm or pollution you might witness.


Follow Surfrider Spain to have the latest update on the Tarragona case.

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