Center For Coastal Studies Identifies Source Of Washed Up Plastic Tubing

Plastic tubing found on Cape Shores, courtesy of Center for Coastal Studies

PROVINCETOWN – An investigation by the Center for Coastal Studies into yellow plastic tubing that has washed ashore on Cape Cod beaches in recent months has traced the origin to demolitions performed by the US. Army Corps of Engineers.

The work was part of the Army Corps $300 million Boston Harbor Dredging Project, which included deepening the entrance to Boston Harbor to accommodate large cargo ships.

The yellow material was identified as explosive shock tubing used to send a charge to detonate underwater explosives for rock clearing.

The findings have led the Army Corps to revise their blasting containment procedures, as existing containment strategies involving collection by nearby vessels were unsuccessful.

“The Army Corps was super surprised about the amount we are finding in every clean-up, and are very engaged in trying to solve it,” said Laura Ludwig, Manager of the Center’s Marine Debris & Plastic Program.

“They are very interested in mitigation and making sure it doesn’t happen again. And the contractor is also very concerned and wants to help.”

Although the plastic is deemed to be safe for humans to touch, small pieces provide a health risk to birds and small animals if ingested.

The Center is collaborating with the Army Corps, its contractor Great Lakes Dock & Dredge, and volunteers to perform beach cleanups and determine how much material escaped the original containment process.

Officials will also work with oceanographers at the Northeast fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole to draft predictive models of where more plastic debris may wash ashore.

So far, clean-up efforts have collected over 2,000 feat of plastic tubing.

“This is definitely a citizen science effort,” said Ludwig.  “The ability to engage volunteers throughout the region is critically important.”

To report a shock tube sighting, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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