NEW YORK (CBSNEWS.COM) – Trillions of small plastic pellets known as nurdles have been escaping from petrochemical plants into waterways and oceans for decades. Only lately has serious action been taken to figure out what can be done, including a monumental settlement in Texas.

Formosa Plastics first opened a petrochemical factory in 1983. It now covers 2,500 acres of land near Port Lavaca, Texas. Trillions of polyethylene plastic pellets are made at the factory, the first step in making products that are used by people every day, from plastic bottles to bags, clothing and electronics.

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But billions of plastic pellets are also lost and find their way into waterways and eventually oceans. Many wash back up onto the beach.

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Jace Tunnell is the founder of Nurdle Patrol, a project that began tracking pellets after a massive spill near Corpus Christi, last year.

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