Styrofoam packing material began washing ashore on the beaches of the North Carolina Outer Banks Wednesday afternoon as a result of a container ship encountering severe weather off the coast.
The debris field ranges from Cape Lookout northward to the Virginia border. The most densely littered areas are from Cape Lookout to Cape Hatteras.
Late Sunday evening, the Hapag-Lloyd vessel Paris Express encountered severe weather in the Atlantic while en route from Savannah to Norfolk, resulting in the loss of 21 containers overboard, including some containing Styrofoam "peanuts." None of the cargo involved was listed as hazardous material, although the Styrofoam could potentially be harmful to pristine National Seashore areas, including critical nesting habitat for endangered turtles and various bird species in the two National Seashores.
The responsible party, Hapag-Lloyd, acted promptly and engaged a contractor, Moran Environmental Recovery, to take the necessary action to remove the debris immediately. Hapag-Lloyd is working closely in this clean up effort with the Unified Command
, which includes the National Park Service, United States Coast Guard, and North Carolina Emergency Management. Other agencies involved include the North Carolina Wildlife
Resource Commision, Carteret County Emergency Management, Dare County Emergency Management, Hyde County Emergency Management, and Currituck County Emergency Management.