Sunday, January 20

Floating Boom, Designed to Clean Up the Pacific Garbage Patch, Isn’t Working

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Here’s some unsettling news. The much-heralded, 2,000-foot-long floating boom that was supposed to clean up the massive Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t working.

The boom, part of Ocean Cleanup, was designed to be deployed from its mothership and float in a U-shape on the surface of the ocean. The idea was that the wind and waves would push the boom faster than it pushed the floating trash, so the trash would be trapped in the middle.

But now that the boom, which left San Francisco three months ago, is actually deployed, it turns out that the trash doesn’t stay trapped inside it; the trash floats out. The Ocean Cleanup engineers aren’t sure what’s wrong. They think maybe the wind and water don’t push the boom fast enough, or the boom isn’t long enough. They now plan to lengthen the boom.

But they want to get it to work soon, since the gyre known as the Pacific Garbage Patch, now floating between the West Coast and Hawaii, continues to grow. They estimate that it consists of 1.8 trillion pieces of garbage, including 87,000 tons of plastic. It’s twice the size of Texas. Read more:



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