This Hawaiian island is so polluted with plastic that it might become a Superfund site – ‘These animals face enough threats to their survival from sea level rise and habitat loss, the last thing they need is to choke on a floating plastic bag’Posted by Iso at Friday, September 12, 2014
By Taylor Hill
12 September 2014
(takepart.com) – Hawaiian green sea turtles, monk seals, and black-footed albatrosses are all closer to getting a cleaner, plastic-free home as the federal government takes a step toward declaring a remote Pacific atoll a Superfund site.
The designation, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency gives for areas severely contaminated by hazardous waste, would be the first granted for a site that was investigated for ocean plastic pollution.
“I’m thrilled the EPA is taking this historic first step to protect Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles from dangerous plastic litter,” said Emily Jeffers, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “These animals face enough threats to their survival from sea level rise and habitat loss, the last thing they need is to choke on a floating plastic bag.”
Located about 564 miles northwest of Honolulu, Tern Island is as remote as an island can get. But the atoll is directly in the path of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, catching bits of the billions of pounds of swirling plastic that inundates the area.
That plastic—whether bags, fishing lines, or bottle caps—often ends up in the bellies of marine animals and birds.
“Initial studies conducted by EPA in areas outside of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands indicate that microplastic marine debris can accumulate and transport contaminants in the marine environment into the food chain,” Dean Higuchi, an EPA spokesman, said in an email. [more]