Back on March 6, 2011, more than 4 million plastic disks were accidentally discharged from the wastewater treatment plant in Hooksett into the Merrimack River. Known as biofilm chips, the disks helped with water treatment by providing additional surface area for bacteria to grow.
It was a big deal – the state Department of Environmental Services has a site just for it – but it was also really interesting because the disks float and last for years, so as they floated down to the Gulf of Maine and out into the Atlantic Ocean they have provided an interesting marker of currents. This isn’t the only such incident used by oceanographers – maybe you’ve heard of the 61,000 floating Nike shoes – but it’s our incident, darn it, so I’m interested!
Turns out the disks are still being tracked via volunteer sightings, most recently in France and England. Cool!
You can find out more about it here.
The biggest message, of course, is to keep trash out of the ocean because you never know where it will end up.