Environment. What are these millions of microbeads polluting the beaches of the Cotentin?

Valentine and his dog Asco pick up microbeads that have been collected by the sea on the beach of Querqueville (Manche) this Monday afternoon, January 30, 2023. (© Sébastien LUCOT)

It’s hard on our sea animals… How sad “A user complains on social networks.

this weekend Walkers on Querqueville Beach he discovered his arrival with horror small plastic balls on the sand. Dozens, hundreds, thousands… It is impossible to count them.

“The information has just been delivered to us. We are now seeing what is happening,” said two soldiers of the Cherbourg marine gendarmerie who arrived on motorbikes near the aid station.

“Strengthening control”

Same ruin on Urville side (Channel) or sandScioto Baypopular among surfers.

On this Monday afternoon, January 30, 2023, thanks to the return of the bright sun, Querqueville Beach had many spectators. Every one of them was surprised to see them coming microbeads about 5 millimeters wide.

sorry to see dirty beachsome took the initiative immediately collect what could they do.

It’s a bit ridiculous, it’s everywhere! I could spend an afternoon with this. But hey, if everyone gets involved, they can prevent some of the things the sea throws out from coming back. I often walk my dog ​​here, this is the first time I have seen it.

Valentine26-year-old Cherbourgois

According to the information from the municipality, several people from the maritime prefecture, firefighters and a delegation of the Lands and Maritime Department (DDTM) also went to the coast of Cherbourg.

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Samples have been taken and analysis will be carried out. These are probably the same plastics found on the Atlantic coast,” said Bertrand Lefranc, environmental assistant for the city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.

After collecting several reports during the day it was these little marbles, poetically called “mermaid tears”. Seen at Collignon Beach and in Flemish port. “Not yet in Saline, but it could happen here. »

A second source of microplastic pollution

The first mermaid tears were reported in France this winter in Audierne Bay in Finistere. Then Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée, then Bernerie-en-Retz, Pornic or even Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, Loire-Atlantique, this January 13, 2023.

Used as a raw material by industry, these “industrial plastic granules,” or GPI, are packaged in 25-pound bags (each containing one million beads) and used to make most plastic items, from car bumpers to salad bowl machines. These pellets are often ingested by marine animals and therefore may enter human food. According to Cedre, they represent the second source of microplastic pollution on French beaches.

No cleanup operation

Even if it hurts to see these threads, plastic pollution Unfortunately, it often happens”, is kept enough for the moment. For example, away from closed Loire-Atlantique beaches like Pornichet. “Monitoring has been increased. We don’t know yet if there will be other waves,” says one selected.

The removal of these microbeads appears to be a very delicate operation. “We are not very open to mechanical operation on the beaches. »

Apart from the cost, degradation of the sea line would be inevitable in such a situation. Their distribution and small size is the main obstacle for public authorities.

Will these small pieces of plastic survive in nature? Likely.

“We know now the sixth continent », a new land of waste in the oceans. “It reminds us that humans are the first to blame for this pollution. »

Like some mayors in Brittany, will the municipality of Cherbourg file a complaint?

This is not currently on the agenda. The idea will come later, of course, the decision will be made after the results of the analysis.

Bertrand LefrancDeputy for the Environment of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin

Access to the beaches is not prohibited in the present state of things. So everyone is free to do their own good, like Valentine and his dog on the beach…

A number of complaints have been filed

the marine public domain Environmental Transition Minister affected by this pollution Christophe Bechu It was signed with the Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs on January 25, 2023 Herve Berville Letter to the public prosecutor of the court of Brest with “specialized coastal jurisdiction” as the mayors of Pornic, La Bernerie-en-Retz, des Sables-d’Olonne and the regional Council of Pays de la Loire against X.

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