SCRIPT: Lego on the beach [June 20, 2018]

SCRIPT: Lego on the beach [June 20, 2018]

Beachgoers in Cornwall, England, are still finding Lego pieces from a shipping accident that happened more than 20 years ago

Voice 1: When you look at a map of Britain, you will see a bit of land shaped like a leg sticking out into the sea down at the bottom on the left. This is the county of Cornwall. It’s a region of great beaches and beautiful countryside, surrounded on three sides by the sea.

Voice 2: Cornwall is the furthest southwesterly landmass of Britain and the very tip of it is called - not surprisingly - Land’s End.    

Voice 1: Much of the coastline of Cornwall is extremely rocky, hiding small coves and bays. In days gone by, it was a favourite place for smugglers from Europe to bring wine and tobacco and silk into the country. The small bays were seldom patrolled by customs officials, and so smugglers’ ships could often land their goods here without being detected. 

Voice 2: The rocky coastline and the rough seas around Cornwall have always meant that sailing here can be dangerous. There have been many sea disasters off the coast of Cornwall.

Voice 1: On February 13, 1997, a fifty-eight thousand tonne container ship called Tokio Express was on her way from the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands to New York City in the US. She had crossed the English Channel and was now heading out into the Atlantic, thirty kilometres off the coast of Land’s End.      

Voice 2: Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gigantic wave hit the ship, knocking her sideways. She ended up tilting over at a dangerous angle of sixty degrees and then she swung back over to forty degrees before righting herself. 

Voice 1: But when the wave hit, sixty-two containers were swept overboard into the sea. The heavy steel containers quickly sunk to the bottom. One of the containers was packed with almost five million pieces of Lego.

Voice 2: It seems a big coincidence that thousands of the Lego pieces that went overboard were being shipped to be part of Lego Sea Pirates and Lego Aquazone box kits. Was King Neptune claiming back something that was rightly his?

Voice 1: Amongst the Lego pieces that sunk to the bottom of the sea were four hundred and eighteen thousand swimming flippers, ninety- eight thousand scuba tanks, thirteen thousand spear guns, four thousand two hundred octopuses, and three hundred thousand plastic flowers.

Voice 2: Fast forward a few years, and locals and tourists started to find Lego pieces washed up in the sand and amongst the rocks of the southwestern county. And twenty years after the Express Tokio accident, beachcombers are still finding Lego miniature swords, flippers, spear guns, and scuba gear, as well as dragons and flowers on the beaches in Cornwall.    

Voice 1: Lego, the eighty-five year old Danish toy-making company, has recently announced that some of their products will be made from biodegradable material from the end of this year. This move is part of Lego’s commitment to use more sustainable materials in its core products.   

Voice 2: Pieces from the 1997 accident have now been found on other beaches all around the world.  In theory, Lego from the Tokio Express spill could keep travelling around the oceans for centuries. Keep a lookout the next time you are on a beach. You might find a Lego dragon in a rock pool - and it might have travelled thousands of kilometres to get there.

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