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Ocean Cleanup Project has success
By Jerry Brownstein
A huge floating device designed to clean up an island of rubbish in the Pacific Ocean that is three times the size of France is successfully accomplishing its mission. About 800,000 metric tonnes of fishing gear is abandoned or lost at sea each year, and another eight million tonnes of plastic waste flows in from rivers and beaches. Ocean currents have brought a vast amount of this trash together at a point halfway between Hawaii and California. It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and it is by far the largest accumulation of plastic trash in the world. This mass of floating debris is kept in rough formation by a whirlpool of currents.
The Ocean Cleanup Project system consists of a 600 metre-long barrier floating on the surface of the sea, with a three metre deep screen below it. This design is intended to trap the plastic without disturbing the marine life below. The device is fitted with transmitters and sensors so it can communicate its position via satellites to a ship that will collect the gathered rubbish every few months.
Boyan Slat of Holland is the creator of the project, and he had this to say about its initial success: “Our ocean cleanup system is now catching plastic of all kinds... from one-tonne ghost nets to tiny microplastics! We have a proven self-contained system that is using the natural forces of the ocean to passively catch and concentrate plastics. This gives us sufficient confidence in the general concept to keep expanding.” The project was started in 2013 and its design underwent several major revisions before a successful model was achieved. The plan is to now scale up the operation to a full fleet of these machines, with the aim of cleaning up most of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.