Huge Trash-Collecting Boom in Pacific Ocean Breaks Apart

Ocean Cleanup's System 001 is towed out of the San Francisco Bay in San Francisco, California on September 08, 2018. - The prototype technology, developed by Boyan Slat, is about 2,000 feet of floating booms that will be towed out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of plastics and trash about the size of France, in hopes of helping remove the pollutants. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A trash collection device deployed to corral plastic litter floating in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii has broken apart and will be hauled back to dry land for repairs.

Boyan Slat, who launched the Pacific Ocean cleanup project, told NBC News last week that the 2,000-foot (600-meter) long floating boom will be towed 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to Hawaii.

If it can’t be repaired there, it will be loaded on a barge and returned to its home port of Alameda, California.

The boom broke apart under constant wind and waves in the Pacific.

Slat said he’s disappointed, but not discouraged and pledged that operations would resume as soon as possible.

Dutch environmental activist and innovator Boyan Slat attends the presentation and the unveiling of his prototype of The Ocean Cleanup project in Scheveningen on June 22, 2016.
The Ocean Cleanup, Slat’s innovative Dutch project aiming to gather up the millions of tons of plastic in the oceans’ great garbage patches, unveils its prototype on June 22 which will be trialled in the North Sea ahead of its expected deployment in 2020. / AFP / http://www.anpfoto.nl AND ANP / Remko de Waal / Netherlands OUT (Photo credit should read REMKO DE WAAL/AFP/Getty Images)

“This is an entirely new category of machine that is out there in extremely challenging conditions,” the 24-year-old Dutch inventor said. “We always took into account that we might have to take it back and forth a few times. So it’s really not a significant departure from the original plan.”

Previously Slat said the boom was moving slower than the plastic, allowing the trash to float away.

A ship towed the U-shaped barrier in September from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of trash twice the size of Texas. It had been in place since the end of October.

The plastic barrier with a tapered 10-foot-deep (3-meter-deep) screen is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

Slat has said he hopes one day to deploy 60 of the devices to skim plastic debris off the surface of the ocean.

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