Topsail Beach now bans using unencapsulated polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, to build floating docks.
Town commissioners on April 13 approved an ordinance prohibiting use of unencapsulated polystyrene. The material is Styrofoam not encased in material to protect it against cracking, peeling, sloughing and deterioration from ultraviolet exposure and physical trauma, making the lightweight and inexpensive material leaves it vulnerable to heavy damage from storms.
“The banning of non-encapsulated dock floats by The Town of Topsail Beach continues our long-standing policy to protect the resources we have at Topsail. We all need to take steps that will continue to allow our children to enjoy our beaches and marshes while protecting the plants and animals with which we share our island home,” Topsail Beach Town Mayor Steve Smith said in a statement.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation praised the commissioners for taking action against marine debris in an announcement. The federation, which publishes Coastal Review and leads debris cleanups along the coast, also noted that Topsail Island is the first community in the state to adopt this type of ordinance.
The ordinance explains that during a coastal debris cleanup by the federation, large quantities of this material was found in town waters and marshlands. When exposed to the elements, it fragments into small, nonbiodegradable pieces that could be ingested by wildlife, ultimately blocking the digestive system and killing them through starvation.
Federation officials said they hope that Topsail Beach will pave the way for regulations that will not only protect the environment but also create more sturdy dock construction for coastal homeowners.
“The Town of Topsail Beach has been a tremendous partner throughout our marine debris removal projects, and such a strong voice on how important it is to keep these harmful materials out of our environment. With their ordinance, they are leading the way for other towns and communities in North Carolina to take action to prevent polystyrene from polluting our precious coast,” Coastal Advocate Kerri Allen said in a statement.
The federation encourages coastal property owners to consider switching to more durable construction materials when building or repairing a dock or pier.