A volunteer shows the biomedias (small plastic elements) collected on the beaches of Sant’Amanza, Corsica, November 20, 2021Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA
The Corsican Environmental Office (OEC) carried out on Saturday morning, on eleven beaches of the island, a vast clean-up operation targeting biomedia, these small plastic discs escaped from wastewater treatment plants and washed up by the thousands on the coasts.
A total of some 100,000 of these biomedies or “filter media”, or more than 50 kilos, were collected on the beaches of the marine protected areas of the Île de Beauté, by commissioned agents of the OEC, the Collectivité de Corse and the Cap Corse and Agriate Marine Natural Park, supported by several associations.
For the president of the OEC, Guy Armanet, this morning clean-up aimed to “collect precise data to map and analyze the phenomenon” and “to constitute an appropriate and efficient legal dossier” in order, in the future, “to anticipate and prevent this type of pollution “.
This “substantial and substantiated legal dossier” could “allow the OEC to file a complaint against the authors of these pollution”, added the association Global Earth Keeper, which also participated.
“We would like that to stop”, insisted Mr. Armanet, specifying that this waste comes from the sea and therefore a priori from Italy.
These “biomedias” are “small circular plastic filters used since the beginning of the 2000s in many municipal or industrial wastewater treatment plants (fish farming, stationery)”, specified the Mare Vivu association, participating in this operation: ” Their role is to serve as a support for microorganisms which, by agglutinating therein, make it possible to degrade organic matter more effectively during the phase of biological water treatment “.
According to its website, “several incidents” may have led to cases of pollution, in particular during heavy rains which “caused overflows in wastewater treatment plants, wastewater taking biomedia with it”.
In February 2021, 40,000 biomedias had been collected on the beaches of the Lido de la Marana, south of Bastia, according to the association.
At the same time, the preliminary hearings for a trial for this type of plastic pollution at sea had started in Italy, in Salerno. Environmental protection associations had attacked officials of the municipality of Paestum and the company responsible for managing the municipal wastewater treatment plant following the dumping in the Mediterranean of millions of these filters in February 2018.
Hundreds of thousands of these plastic washers had washed up on the Italian beaches of Campania and as far as Tunisia and France, according to the Surfrider association.