Tiny white plastic pellets are washing ashore in Spain’s northwestern coast by the millions, with hundreds of volunteers leading the clean up as authorities struggle to coordinate and companies decline any responsibility.

A tanker ship lost six containers off the coast of Portugal on Dec. 8. One of them carried over 26 tons of PET pellets — tiny plastic balls measuring about 5 millimeters (about 0.2 inches) each used to manufacture plastic products.

“On the open seas we are seeing the water covered in a white blanket,” said by phone Joám Evans, a spokesman with environmental non-profit Ecologistas en Acción taking part in the cleanup effort. “On the beaches volunteer citizens, fishermen, surfers and all sorts of associations are picking up pellets one by o

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