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Hell in the Pacific?

2010 April 2

‘Old war movie’ gurus may recognize the reference. While more is yet to come on the war relics that still refuse to dissolve into the jungle and out of sight, this highlights another issue that one might not expect to find in paradise.

Hell in the pacificOur third full day in Palau we found ourselves out again with Ron Leidich, biologist and founder of Planet Blue. We wanted an opportunity to continue planning the possible kayaking routes we could take after a week of diving. We were graciously given the time as we explored Blue Devil’s Beach (a.k.a Lee Marvin Beach – named after the 60’s Hollywood heart throb). In addition to getting a chance to snorkel, we helped clean the beach for the arrival of some guests traveling through the World Wildlife Fund for a week long guided expedition with Ron.

I pick up trash anywhere out of habit, beaches, even parking lots. I can’t leave it! Palau’s shoreline was no exception. Despite the remoteness, Palau isn’t immune to the traces of human activity even oceans away. The currents carry debris from any number of sources. We grabbed flip flops, nylon rope, plastic scraps and cans. I had held out hope that we wouldn’t see litter but, pollution knows no bounds. Plastics never disappear; they just breakdown into smaller pieces. While you didn’t have to look as hard as I would’ve hoped to find garbage, it felt encouraging being among Palauans who work hard to leave no trace and pick up the traces of others.

We noticed more recycling bins around Koror than I see in Boston, and the dive operations promoted the same ideas. For a relatively new independent country, Palau appeared to be on the right path with environmental and conservation efforts. A friend of ours told us about a family picnic day where they came across a beach positioned at the receiving end of currents carrying forgotten and poorly disposed of trash, maybe from ships, or other continents. 7 full garbage bags later and there was even more.

That litter blowing down the street always ends up someplace – even if you don’t know where.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvery lives in Boston, working for EPA New England as a Public Affairs Specialist, doing Superfund  Community Involvement. Currently Jeanethe is also working on web and social media outreach for EPA’s Office of Web Communications in Washington D.C.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Robert Henry permalink
    April 2, 2010

    I want to make all of you aware of chemtrail spraying that is ongoing across the US and possibly elsewhere. In LA, Ca. jets spray chemtrails around the clock. This activity is illegal and immoral… they are spraying aluminum, barium, strontium and other chemicals. Just look up in the sky where you are to see them. This is DESTROYING the ecosystems of the world!

  2. Jackenson Durand permalink
    April 2, 2010

    We understand the value of long-term sustainabilisation perspective.
    Ocean waves are able to carry hell at anytime. In coconut coastal area, the idea of numerous years cleaning project is also more important.

  3. armansyahardanis permalink
    April 2, 2010

    Hell are tragic… People, somewhere, mean it by their interpreted. Maybe it’s same, or not. Hell in the Pacific is real, concrete. Thank you for your information, because I think only here that it. My obsession only US-EPA can (and want) to save this planet. Here, isn’t yet…

  4. Matt Tichon permalink
    April 2, 2010

    What a great article that helps really shed some light on the far reaching impacts of pollution! It is a shame that such a pristine place is already impacted by the carelessness from people on other countries and continents far away. While I do not consider myself an environmentalist I surely love the outdoors and think that we all need to realize that our planet is a small place and work to leave nature in it’s natural state, the perfect way that it was created! Thanks Jeanethe for helping to make us a bit smarter on the topic, keep up your good efforts!

  5. allans permalink
    April 2, 2010

    While everyone is upset with trash, especially along pristine beaches and coral reefs, much of that trash most likely was generated elsewhere and drifted in the tides for years before ending up on the shore line.

    Like you, I’ve found Palau to be very pristine and the people there take pride in keeping it that way and need to commend them for maintaining it in that condition. They are also very protective of their mangrove coastline buffers which protect their coral from runoff.

    It’s only a shame that the US and Japanese government haven’t done more to clean up the land of the ravages, waste and debris left over from WWII.

    I commend you for taking the effort to help them maintain that pristine condition and we all need to follow your example.

  6. Al Bannet permalink
    April 3, 2010

    The plastic trash that is washing up on beaches around the World is caused by illegal ocean dumping of tons of garbage. The legal authorities know this and they know who is doing it, but they refuse to do anything to stop it. The only thing that CAN stop it is to establish 100% recycling of all waste and garbage around the World by international agreement. But none of them will even talk about such a reform, let alone do anything about it! I guess they’re too scared.

  7. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    April 3, 2010

    Litter knows no boundaries. All we can do with that is the best we can. I hope more corporations will cut the amount of packaging and make the packaging they have be really biodegradeable so it will disentigrate in the compost pile. We have a litter clean up program that is on-going seven days a week with the city gargeners on the Oso Creek Trail and they do a great job keeping the trail clean. The grocery cart patrol we have does a really great job keeping the trail path, water, creek bank and hills above the path free of abandoned grocery carts 7 days a week. But the trail is still not completely free of litter because the wind blows paper scraps off the parking lot onto the trail. But major stretches of the trail do stay clean and the overall amount of litter has gotten alot less since last summer. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  8. Jeanethe Falvey permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Thank you all for your great comments! The more of us that think about these issues the better, I appreciate you taking time to read this blog! ~Jeanethe

  9. c.v.antony permalink
    April 6, 2010

    Wish we have eco friendly packagings.

  10. Lorraine Ridge permalink
    May 2, 2010

    But what to do about it, Henry? The Whitehouse denies that there is any issue and refers me to the enviromental agengy.

  11. Dan HAddox permalink
    January 20, 2011

    Washington denies a lot. Their is ever expanding proof of chemtrails. keep spreading the word, education of the public is the only way to fight Washington.

  12. bob permalink
    April 8, 2012

    why worry about that as you drink water that contains chlorine and floride and other contaminants. PS, the trees animals and fish drink it to.

  13. bob permalink
    April 8, 2012

    GMO crops should be high on the EPAs agenda but they dont address this issue properly either. As they allow the destruction of the natural spiecies of the world we will look back and say what happend. We know what is happening yet we do nothing.

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