Officials investigating a 25-mile-long wave of trash that washed ashore across Outer Banks beaches have linked the debris to a U.S. Navy vessel near the northeastern coast of North Carolina.
According to National Park Service officials, the trash, made up of plastic, metal, paper, and textile fabric, began appearing on April 27 and was reported to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector North Carolina.
“Our staff out on the beaches on the northern portion of Cape Hatteras National Seashore started to see some plastic debris,” David Hallac, Superintendent with the National Parks of Eastern NC, told WRAL. “Everything from shampoo bottles to old pairs of shoes, and thought it was a little bit unusual.”
Staff from Nags Head to the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo, reportedly found debris as well.
According to WRAL, this incident is not the first time debris has washed up across the shoreline. Over 30 years ago, a WRAL crew captured Navy sailors dumping trash from their ships off the North Carolina coast.
The incident would later lead to a congressional investigation, with former WRAL anchor Bill Leslie testifying before Congress.
“In 1991, medical waste was washing up on the shores of the Outer Banks… And we did stories on it, and people were infuriated by it,” Bill Leslie told WRAL. “I’m very surprised to hear about this… It’s been 32 years. You would think they’d get it right in that time.”
Crews from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Town of Nags Head, Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge are all participating in a cleanup effort over the coming days.