Monday 22 July 2019

Transport ministry to investigate effects of container spill on wildlife

Photo: Kustwacht

The transport ministry’s roads and waterways department, and the Waddenacademie research group, are going to investigate the middle and long term effects of the plastic contamination in the Waddenzee caused by the recent container spill.

Probes have shown that plastic particles from the contents of some of the 291 containers lost by the Panamanian-flagged MSC Zoe in the first week of January have been found on beaches, sandbanks and mudflats, the ministry said in a statement.

While the bulk of the items lost can be taken out manually, the plastic particles, from deteriorated Styrofoam and other granules used in the plastics industry, are too small to  remove effectively and birds and other Waddenzee wildlife can easily mistake them for food.

The upcoming research will be used to monitor the extent of the damage and to devise measures to further protect the UNESCO world heritage site, the ministry said.

Earlier a team of oceanographers from Utrecht University said they will be monitoring the whereabouts of the spilled plastic objects, including a load of My Little Pony toys.

According to researcher Erik van Sebille, it is unclear where 99% of the plastic contamination of the last 60 years has ended up. Nor do we know how ocean currents transport the debris and how fast it sinks to the bottom, he said.

The team will be collecting as much data as possible about the container contents to find out if it ended up on beaches or on the bottom of the sea. ‘We can use this to find out how long it takes for a My Little Pony to become waterlogged and sink,’ Van Sebille told broadcaster NOS. has been free for 12 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
Donate via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.