Elmo Costume, Toilet, Oven Among Items Washing Up on Jersey Shore

Plastic bottle caps and lids are among the most common pollutants, an advocacy group says

The toll of trash on the Jersey Shore just keeps getting weirder -- an Elmo costume, a toilet and an oven are among the items that washed ashore and have been cleaned up by volunteers.

Ocean advocacy group Clean Ocean Action announced on Wednesday what volunteers had found in their 2011 beach sweeps. The program is now in its 26th year.

Beachgoer Shannon Cassaro, 16, a sophomore at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology on Sandy Hook, said she gets "infuriated and disgusted" at what she sees on the beaches of Sandy Hook when she visits.

While many beachgoers leave their trash behind, Clean Ocean Action Executive Director Cindy Zipf said most of it comes from storm drains in New York City and its suburbs that overflow during heavy, or even moderate, rain storms.

"Every time it rains, there's a lot of runoff that comes from the streets that ends up in the storm drains that ends up in the water which winds up on our beaches," Zipf said.

After a close examination of the trash picked up last year, the list put together by the group listed small plastic pieces as the worst pollutant, followed by plastic bottle caps and lids, plastic food and candy wrappers, plastic straws and stirrers and  cigarette filters.

Also on the list were plastic bottles, plastic store shopping bags, plastic cap rings, lumber pieces and plastic forks, knives and spoons.

This year's spring sweep is being held at beaches from Cape May to Sandy Hook on Saturday, April 21.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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