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article imageOcean Cleanup hits another snag as 60-foot section breaks off

By Karen Graham     Jan 2, 2019 in Technology
A 60-foot chunk of the Ocean Cleanup device, deployed with much fanfare in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October, has broken off and the entire plastic collection system will now be towed back to port for an overhaul and upgrade.
Hopefully, no one is keeping score because if they were it would be Great Pacific Garbage Patch: 2, Wilson: 0. Wilson is the name given to the 2,000-foot-long U-shaped "Ocean Cleanup Array" Dutch nonprofit, Ocean Cleanup launched on September 8, 2018, from San Francisco Bay.
Ocean Cleanup has already been grappling with how to retain the plastic waste the system has collected. On December 18, Digital Journal reported the floating device sent to corral a swirling island of trash between California and Hawaii has not swept up any plastic waste — but Ocean Cleanup founder Boyan Slat said a fix was in the works.
The latest problem was discovered on Saturday during a routine inspection of the 2000-foot barrier. Crew members found that an end section of the cleanup's U-shaped boom had detached, Slat said on the nonprofit's site.
In a New Year’s Eve post, Slat wrote that he was “quite bummed about” the problem, reports USA Today. However, he added that “setbacks like this are inevitable when pioneering new technology at a rapid pace. Being in port provides us with the opportunity to make upgrades to the system.”
Slat also said that Wilson had collected about 4,500 pounds of plastic waste over a period of several weeks, a far cry from the 2,200 pounds the crew had believed it would collect every week. "We believe these teething troubles are solvable, and the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be operational in 2019,” Slat wrote.
The team is heading back to Alameda, the former Naval Base in San Francisco Bay, California. This will allow them to address the barrier's plastic retention issue, said Slat.
A Maersk Transporter rig is also bringing back two tons of plastic and discarded fishing ghost nets gathered over the past few weeks. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers an area twice the size of Texas, consisting of discarded plastics, fishing nets, bottle tops, containers, and other junk.
More about ocean cleanup, great pacific garbage patch, plastic waste, boyan slat, 60foot section of barrier
 
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