According to The Local, from Tuscany to Campania, hundreds of thousands of unidentified plastic discs have washed up on Italy’s western coast in recent weeks.
The white discs began turning up in southern Italy about a month ago, according to Clean Sea Life, a group that campaigns to clean up Italy’s beaches, which said it received the first report from Paestum beach on February 21st.
Since then hundreds of thousands more have been spotted all along the Tyrrhenian coast, says the group, which has been mapping the sightings and alerting regional authorities. Some of its members picked up 800 of the discs in one hour on a single beach, it said, liquor stores.
It is not known where the discs came from or how so many of them ended up in the sea, but Clean Sea Life suspects that they are parts for a water purification plant that were either washed out during heavy rains or somehow fell into the ocean while they were being delivered.
Oceanographers are studying the log of sightings to try to work out where the spill most likely took place. They believe it was somewhere in the Gulf of Naples and those currents later swept the discs north.
“Update on the big spill of disks, likely used in wastewater treatment aka #hooksetdisks washing up by the 1000s in central Italy. @CleanSeaLIFE coordinating w local, regional auth, coast guard and oceanographers to backtrack source &cleanup #marinelitter #marinedebris #6IMDC”
The group is urging members of the public to let them know if they spot the discs and, even more importantly, to pick them up.
“If it had been done right away, we wouldn’t find ourselves with hundreds of sightings of discs all over the Tyrrhenian a month later,” Clean Sea Life said. “If we don’t pick them up now, they’ll continue to pollute our sea forever, breaking up bit by bit into smaller and smaller pieces without ever disappearing completely.”