Chasing the nurdles

In October last year during a major storm, 49 tons made up of 2 billion plastic nurdles, were released into the ocean when a ship’s cargo was compromised during the storm. To date, only 13.39 tons of those nurdles have been recovered meaning there is still 35 tons of plastic from this single spill, still floating around in the ocean. Considering the ocean currents that wash our shores there is a possibility, although quite remote, that some of these nurdles could be washed up on our shores and thus Chanel Gemae Hauvet’s appeal, following an appeal f from  Coast KZN sent to NSRI Stations around the South African coastline.


Nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil. Countless billion are used each year to make nearly all our plastic products but many end up washing up on our shores. Spills and mishandling by industry can mean nurdles end up at sea. Our planets oceans are now accumulating nurdles in worryingly large numbers. Unlike large pieces of plastic marine litter, nurdles are so small that they go largely unnoticed. However scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about their effect on our delicate marine ecosystem as nurdles attract and concentrate background pollutants like DDT and PCBs to highly toxic levels and like other plastic, over time they just fragment into smaller and smaller plastic particles, are mistaken for prey by many marine animals and seabirds and enter the food chain..

Chanel’s post ……

“Hello St Francis, Paradise Beach, JBay an Oyster Bay

I would like to ask your assistance towards the conservation of our beautiful ocean and beaches. On October 10, 2017, there was a large Nurdle spill off the Durban coastline.  Although most nurdles have been washing up along the Durban/KZN coastline, some wash up along ours too. Every nurdle collected counts thus this appeal.

Nurdles are very small plastic pellets used as raw material in the manufacturing of plastic products. They attract harmful substances such as pesticides, herbicides and other pollutants as well as heavy metals that end up in the ocean, therefore they are harmful to life and should not be ingested. They never break down!

NSRI stations across the South African coastline have received Nurdle bins from WildOceans (a programme of the WILDTRUST), whose mission is to help clean up the nurdle spill, that has now spread along the South African coast. WildOceans, along with the Department of Environmental Affairs and SAAMBR, have commissioned 300 bins to be distributed along the entire coastline, which are there for us as a community to use as a nurdle collection point.

NSRI Station 21 St Francis Bay has a bin located at their base and I urge everybody to do their part. The Wildside on Cape St Francis , up to Oyster Bay is a specific stretch of coastline in our area where we may find washed up nurdles. I urge you all, to please keep a look out for and contribute to the collection of these little pellets and to drop them off at our local Station 21. If any of you have any Nurdles to contribute you can get a hold of us on 071 381 8922 (Tony Myles), 

Thank you

Chanel Gemae Hauvet”

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And so back to the bridge

A bridge too far? (nearly there)

The Sand River Bridge has become rather an emotional subject to many a local St Franciscan and so it is a challenge to write an article that will not offend someone. The ‘Have your Say’ article by Garth Perry certainly sparked a lot of support for his views and one could say the local population at large are somewhat ‘peed off’ at the progress.

Following Garth’s ‘Have your Say’ St Francis Today, along with a representative of St Francis Property Owners were invited to a site inspection and insight to the progress and where it was going. SFT has no knowledge of how SFPO will interpret the fact-finding visit and no doubt their interpretation will be covered in their monthly newsletter but here are the ’facts’ as interpreted by SFT.

  • Completion is due by July 2018.
  • The contract will end way under budget. The contractor’s words were “significantly”.
  • There is going to be one heck of a lot more inconvenience to drivers in the coming weeks.

If we look back at the contract to build the bridge, SFT traces our initial meeting with EMPA to February 2016 after the contract had been awarded to them in very late 2015.  Forward planning of the site office and a start to re-routing of the river followed in March. Then came the first delay when the contract was challenged by those who felt more entitled to being awarded the work. Either simultaneously or shortly after this challenge, DEDEAT became involved and of course we all know that with best intentions DEDEAT will delay the best intentions.

Finally, in September 2016 EMPA were able to return to site to continue what they had started six months earlier. The estimated construction time was 18–months so if we calculate from October to today it is 19 months since the actual work commenced full time. Take off two months for the two Christmas shutdowns and we end up with 17 months.  So EMPA’s claim that they are ahead of schedule is true albeit if they finish in July they will have exceeded the contract period by roughly a month. Finish by the end of June and they are right on time.

Just recently there has been a delay caused not by the contractor but by Provincial roads. It is a small modification but a modification nonetheless.  This mod is necessary for as we well know many if not most locals do not believe that traffic laws apply to them and generally treat the laws with disdain until a minibus taxi happens on them when they cry foul and demand Kouga Traffic, Provincial Traffic and indeed even the Minister of Police take action against the lawlessness. But we digress.

Travelling from Humansdorp to St Francis the road takes a gentle curve to the right about 100 metres after the bridge which at the speed limit in place of 80 KPH presents no problem. Unfortunately few will abide the 80KPH and most will enter this curve at well over 100 KPH and herein lies the  Province’s concern and the need for the modification. The contractor gave it another name but for sake of better understanding, we shall call it a camber. The bridge is being modified to accommodate a camber that will set up speeding cars for the curve reducing the chances of an accident. NOTE “reducing”! Be sure some will approach the curve at well over 100 and so there will still be accidents which we certainly hope won’t be blamed on the contractor in future letters to the press.

So now the bad news!

For a period of around six weeks, motorists are going to be inconvenienced with a stop/go when crossing the bridge, 24/7. In other words, the stop/go will be in place day and night.

The road has to be rebuilt some 100 metres either side of the bridge and the inconvenience is simply unavoidable. So “Dear Fellow St Franciscans”, let us all show a little patience and refrain from cursing the workers alongside the work area or showing them your Archers Finger for there is little they can do other than get on with the job at hand. The contractor has said they will be doing all in their power to finish this section well ahead of the predicted six weeks so we don’t need to antagonise them.

It is nearly over so let’s not throw ’water over the troubled bridge’.


There have been comments that this was no ordinary bridge for Eskom had involvement to ensure the bridge would have both width and strength to carry the weight f the nuclear turbines. EMPA is neither admitting nor denying but one gets the feeling that this certainly was the case.

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