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Volunteers clean up plastic pellets that spilled into Pocono Creek

TANNERSVILLE, MONROE COUNTY (WOLF) -- Dozens of people in Monroe County took a dip in the Pocono Creek Sunday for a huge clean-up effort.

Last month, thousands of plastic pellets spilled into the creek watershed after a truck carrying them capsized.

Most of the danger comes from wildlife thinking they’re food and eating them.

Organizers of today’s clean-up say a couple dozen of those pellets could clog the stomachs of fish or birds and eventually end up killing them.

“Imagine trying to pick up a jar of aspirin that you dumped into the leaves.”

These people sifting through mud, branches, and rocks didn’t have to imagine this afternoon in Tannersville.

More than 70 volunteers came out to the Pocono Creek, on the hunt for these tiny, blue plastic pellets.

They’re called nurdles and a truck carrying 29,000 pounds of them fell over on I-80 last month, spilling a portion of that load into the Pocono Creek Watershed.

“A very unfortunate accident. With a great natural resource here like that, to have something like that pollute it is unfortunate,” Brian Lacey, of Kunkletown, said.

Most of those nurdles were cleaned up at the source by a local towing company.

Today, the Brodhead chapter of Trout Unlimited organized a community clean-up to capture any that floated downstream.

“We started a little grassroots campaign through social media, our email list, and thanks to the local media its grown. We supposedly have people coming in from Connecticut today,” Eric Baird, Secretary of the Brodhead chapter of Trout Unlimited, said.

Students from Kutztown University in Berks County made the drive up, and got to work.

“We’re actually in an environmental biology class together so yeah, we have an interest in it and just wanted to help out,” Jenna Huckle, a sophomore at Kutztown University, said.

And the East Stroudsburg University community also showed support.

“We’ve got a strong freshwater biology program at ESU and we’ve been involved with the Delaware River watershed initiative and many of the students that are coming have been part of those classes. And so one of the partners that’s involved in that is Trout Unlimited. So when the call goes out that they need something to clean up, we try to respond as best we can,” Paul Wilson, professor of stream ecology at ESU, said.

Most of the clean-up took place on the George and Olive Learn Preserve, a 1,000 foot stretch along the creek. Olive Learn, who owns that land, stopped by to see how things were going.

“Great, great, I’m glad. I’m glad there’s an interest like this,” Learn said.

Organizers from the Brodhead chapter of Trout Unlimited say they don’t have any other clean-ups in the works right now.

However, if more pellets make their way downstream and into public places they can access – they’ll plan for another one.

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