Mysterious disks of garbage are washing ashore on the Outer Banks, and now the Navy is getting involved in the investigation.
Jeff Kelly shared pictures of the table-top sized disks of compressed garbage with The Virginian-Pilot. He said he found 26 of them north of Corolla. Another resident, Heather Cremia, gathered 17 more disks along Kill Devil Hills and other Outer Banks beaches.
"We've had our suspicions that it was the Navy," said Cremia. "We didn't have any solid proof until the sealed Navy paperwork inside the trash disk."
Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue Supervisor David Elder said it's normal for some trash to wash up on shore but this case was different.
"[They were] very clearly completely circular disks and that's abnormal," said Elder.
Ted Brown with the Navy's Fleet Forces Command said the disks appear to be similar to those made on Navy ships to compress plastic waste for easy storage. Ships are not supposed to dump plastic into the ocean.
Brown says the disks are supposed to be stored in a trash room until a ship reaches port. He says he doesn't know how the disks ended up on the beaches. In a statement, Brown said:
"The U.S. Navy has received inquiries regarding plastic disks that recently washed up on beaches in North Carolina. These disks appear to be the same type of compressed plastic disks Navy ships produce routinely as a means of safely storing plastic waste aboard. Under Navy policy and environmental regulations, Navy ships are prohibited from discharging plastic in the ocean. Our crews are trained and instructed to separate all plastic products for processing, then retain the disks onboard until they can be properly disposed of ashore. The Navy is committed to being a good steward of the environment, and is currently investigating this incident. The Navy plans to send a message to operating units reminding/reinforcing the policy regarding plastics disposal at sea."
"It doesn't make me feel good," said Elder. "It's understandable that they would come on shore and in a way, I'm almost happier to see them out of the ocean than in the water still washing around."
As for the 17 trash disks Cremia collected, she said the Navy will pick them up on Friday. However, she said she is "extremely upset" over the situation.
"I clean the beaches almost every day so i see a lot of trash on the beaches but the fact that it's coming from our government is very disturbing," said Cremia.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.