I want to say a huge thank you to volunteers known locally as the Aberavon Army who have spent days battling wind and rain to clear up a container spill which left nappies strewn across Aberavon beach.

On Tuesday, October 20 HM Coastguard received a report from a vessel that 11 shipping containers (seven empty and four containing non-hazardous cargoes) were adrift in the sea off Land’s End.

The containers were carrying nappies and their contents then washed up in Devon and Wales, littering beaches up and down the west coast of the UK.

Ten days after the original spill, one of the containers found its way to Aberavon Beach.

The beaches were strewn with heavy plastic packages as well as hundreds of loose nappies that separated, leaving wraps and liners across the tidelines and buried in rocks.

Surfers Against Sewage regional representative Rachel Edwards
Surfers Against Sewage regional representative Rachel Edwards

Surfers against Sewage regional representative Rachel Edwards (pictured above) said that, despite the scale of the problem, the people of Port Talbot came together like never before to tackle the issue head on.

She said: “We saw dog walkers collecting packs of nappies, individuals and households gathering bags, and countless others working with Aberavon Beach Cleaners, Dynamic Dunescapes and Surfers Against Sewage Port Talbot and Neath Port Talbot Council to retrieve as many of the products as possible, often in howling wind and rain.

“We were taken aback by the support of the local community and the Council in the clean-up efforts on Aberavon Beach, especially at a time when organised beach cleans are prohibited. We couldn’t have done this without them.

The Aberavon Army cleanining up Aberavon beach
The Aberavon Army cleanining up Aberavon beach

“As a regional representative, alongside my colleague Alun, we want to raise awareness of the plastic pollution, educate schools and businesses and empower the community to embrace plastic free habits that will preserve our beaches.

“Aberavon truly is a hidden gem with a diverse environment from extensive golden sands to unique dune systems, all of which we need to work together to protect.

“We want to see real change in our governance, policies and lifestyle to make this happen, and it starts with us – the people who live here.

“Neath Port Talbot Council have been present every single day, clearing bags, using their tractors and trucks to transport literally tonnes of waste off Aberavon beach.

“The nappies will continue washing up on our shores for many weeks, so having community support and participation is vital to preserving and protecting our seas.

“We want to send a huge heartfelt thank you to each and every member of the public, our community groups and our councils who have worked tirelessly to clear our coastlines. We are in this together, and together we can help make our coastlines plastic free.”

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