Nurdles — tiny plastic pellets washing up on the state’s beaches — pose a threat to marine life. Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that a company called Formosa Plastics situated on Lavaca Bay can be held liable for violating environmental laws — after a 2017 lawsuit claimed the company dumped millions of nurdles into surrounding water. Now, a volunteer effort to document the amount of plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere is getting a million-dollar boost.
The money approved by a federal judge in Texas is part of the $50 million settlement with Formosa Plastics. The Nurdle Patrol is a group of citizen scientists who document how many nurdles are littering coastlines. The group hopes the data it collects will convince the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to ban plastic producers from allowing any of the pellets into the environment.
The pellets can absorb harmful chemicals which can endanger wildlife when they’re mistaken for food.