Mayors file legal complaint over plastic waste washed up on French coast


A hundred people gathered on a beach in Pornic on France's north western coast (Loire-Atlantique) on Saturday to denounce the pollution of plastic micro-beads washed up there and on other beaches in recent weeks. Several elected officials have filed a legal complaint against what they describe as an "environmental nightmare".

"It is thought that a shipping container that may have been damaged some time ago, and which, with the recent storms, opened up, spreading the pellets along the shores," Lionel Cheylus, spokesperson for the Surfrider foundation told French news agency AFP.

The NGO was behind the beach clean up operation and protest in Pornic and in other beachside towns in France and Spain on Saturday.

These pellets, also called or "mermaid's tears", are melted "to make all everyday plastic objects", explains Cheylus. "It is pollution that moves".

"We found pellets in December in Finistère, then it was in Sables d'Olonne, after that it was here in Pornic (...), on Friday, it was still in Noirmoutier," he said, labelling a number of western French beaches, popular with tourists.

People of all ages scraped the sand for two hours to pick up these round, white micro-beads, which are the size of a grain of rice.

Poison for the fish

With the recent passage of the major Gérard storm, pellets were difficult to find for the demonstrators who wrote on their signs: "Plastic pollution = guilty industry!" and "Poison for the fish".

"It's more symbolic than anything else: I don't think we're going to pick up the whole container!" Annick, a retiree who had filled the bottom of a yogurt pot with a few dozen pellets, told AFP.

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