Team B: Physics, Pools, and Plastics

Posted by Matt G. at 09:48 28 October 2008:
Access to the OSCURS Model; info available here.

Brian: Here's a list of potentially useful sources

Posted by Matt G. at 15:55 05 November 2008:

General ->

Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Eastern Garbage Patch
Pacific Trash Vortex
135- 155 W and 35- 42 N
Trapped in North Pacific Gyre

Zero Waste Plan- Work in Progress

Size estimates 700,000 km to 15 million km

Plastic remains plastic as it degrades and enters the food chain PCB, DDT and PAHs

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) 1988- banned plastic dumping from ships

Chris Parry- California Coastal Commisssion “GPGP growing at a brisk pace since the 1950s”

GPGP- 80% plastic

Kuroshio current

More Specific ->

Floating plastic in the Kuroshio Current area, western North Pacific Ocean
dominant size-class: 3 mm (30% of all plastic pieces)

California EPA supports Operation Clean Sweep- so do multiple LA plastic manufacturers

Plastics pollution and legislation

Dack 11/5/08 @ 18:45
I'm focusing on how the city of LA (or other CA cities) have implemented projects to help stop marine pollution. The following list of excerpts is what I'll be looking at for tomorrow:

"In October 2005, the City of San Francisco entered into a cooperative agreement with the large grocery chains that serve most of the City’s population to achieve a ten million-bag reduction within a year. This initiative was developed in response to the proposed $0.17 per bag fee that the City considered imposing on the use of plastic and paper grocery bags at checkout counters at the same grocery store chains."

"In 2004, Los Angeles City residents overwhelmingly supported Proposition O and authorized the City to issue $500 million in general bonds for projects that protect public health by improving water quality. These projects include cleaning up and preventing pollution of waterways and beaches, improving or protecting water quality, and increasing water conservation, habitat protection and open space"

"An example in California is the “e-waste” charge associated with electronic wastes such as television monitors computer monitors, televisions, and similar video display devices (including lap top computers). The program places a $6-$10 Advance Recycling Fee on the sale of these products. The funds that are generated are used to provide incentives for local governments, nonprofits and private recyclers to establish recycling opportunities"

3 prior quotes from "Eliminating Land-based Discharges of Marine Debris in California" found at The 91-page report contains, amongst other things, a 63-point list of actions recommended to reduce marine pollution (starting on pg. 80)

Using sources found at the other team's wiki [nothing wrong with a little espionage :-) ], Charles Moore's paper entitled "Synthetic polymers in the marine environment: A rapidly increasing, long-term threat" contains a recommendations section which states the following: "In 2002, the State of California Water Resources Control Board awarded a half million dollar US grant to AMRF and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to assess the amount of plastic debris entering the ocean from the Los Angeles Basin’s two largest watersheds" and cites several bills and proposals that (if they've taken effect yet) would require takeout food packaging to be made from recyclable or compostable materials starting July 1, 2012. Also the California Integrated Waste Management Board would be required to address derelict (abandoned) fishing gear

Dack 11/5 18:55
From the other team's wiki:
1. Show L.A. pollutes at a high rate. = high rate compared to what?
2. Show that some of this pollution makes it to the Garbage Patch = I ran several OSCURS tests starting at different population centers around the pacific rim over a 10-yr timeframe, and the stuff leaving LA goes towards Japan. I'm hesitant to use this model as proof because it also predicted garbage from Tokyo would make it to inland Korea.
3. Show that this pollution is dangerous to the marine life in the patch. = indisputable
4. Show that this problem is getting bigger quickly. = Probably true, but we have proof that CA has been trying for several years to curb their marine pollution
5. Look for laws that show L.A. is at fault. = any thoughts?
6. Make recommendations to help alleviate this problem. = as stated before, as LA defense we have proof of bills and projects in place or awaiting ratification

Endnote: Yes, LA is at fault, but so are many other locations along the Pacific rim. "…oil containers, detergent jugs, plastic caps—with Russian, Korean, and Chinese writing on them…" from

Posted by Matt G. at 22:44 05 November 2008:
From a paper posted by opposing team:
"It appears that there is heterogeneous geographic input of neuston plastic, with much of it originating in the western Pacific. This conclusion is indicated by the high densities in and around the Japan Sea and nearshore Japan, where the highest densities of both neuston plastic and marine debris (Day et al. 1990) were recorded. The most polluted water in this area were Tokyo Bay (which had far more plastic than Day has ever seen elsewhere in the Pacific—he was unable to sample there) and localized areas in the Japan Sea."

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