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Clean up begins for plastic waste on shoreline in Searsport

Two bales of plastic fell into the bay and washed up on Sears Island
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:43 PM EST
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SEARSPORT, Maine (WABI) - Cleanup is underway in Searsport after plastic waste, bound for incineration, entered Penobscot Bay.

Ron Huber is the executive director of the Friends of Penobscot Bay, an organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the bay and its surroundings. He was down on the beach, collecting a sample of the debris.

”It’s already chopped up it’s going to break down into microplastics very quickly.”

The MV Sider London docked at Mack Point Terminal on November 28th with 8000 bales of plastic from Ireland.

It was bound for Penobscot Energy Recovery Company in Orrington to be used as solid fuel. Huber wonders why.

“For some crazy reason we’re importing trash from Ireland to burn in the incinerators over here and put the ashes in our landfill.”

According to Sprague, the company in charge of offloading materials at the terminal, two bales of plastic waste broke apart and fell into the bay.

“This is the first one of these Irish waste loads coming to Searsport and it’s setting a very bad example.” said Huber.

The trash can be found all along the shore on Sears island. It’s intermingled with the seaweed, making it difficult to collect.

Sprague contracted Clean Harbors waste management and a crew of four was out on the beach collecting trash on Wednesday. Representative Genevieve McDonald was also on the beach to learn more about the spill.

“I thought I would come over and see for myself what’s going on and maybe find some answers about how we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

Sprague says for future shipments they plan to mandate air bladders between the bales to prevent damage to the packaging during transit.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is investigating the incident.

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