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Group seeks Superfund status for plastic ocean debris

December 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 14, 11:30 a.m. ET) — The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a Superfund site, in order to clean up plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean.

“The waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands contain thousands of pounds of plastic bags, bottles and other toxic litter that’s deadly to seals, birds and other marine wildlife,” said Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney, in a Dec. 11 news release. “Something this big and disgusting needs the kind of attention that only a Superfund designation can provide.”

Jeffers works in the Tucson, Ariz.-based center’s Oceans Program, in its San Francisco office.

Before a site becomes eligible for cleanup and remediation, it must be evaluated by EPA to determine the extent and nature of the contamination. The center’s petition calls on EPA to gather data and assess the nature and extent of plastic pollution in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and surrounding areas.