It Took On the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Now It’s in Pieces.


EXCERPT: It set sail from San Francisco Bay in September amid [...] its destination the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The goal was for the giant floating boom to make a dent in the vast archipelago of plastic that is choking the seas between California and Hawaii. But this week, the nonprofit group that developed the boom said it would be towed back to port — in two pieces. “We are, of course, quite bummed about this,” the Dutch organization, the Ocean Cleanup, wrote on a blog chronicling the device’s triumphs and travails.

By some estimates, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch consists of more than 80,000 tons of waste and debris, tossed together by the currents into a sort of island of lost toys, minus the island. As it grows, scientists say, so does the danger it poses to the health of the ocean.

The 2,000-foot-long boom ... was designed to trap the trash so that it could be returned to shore. ... But on Monday, the ... end-section of the boom ... had detached. ... The Ocean Cleanup said it appeared that material fatigue and “local stress concentration” might have caused the fracture in the multimillion-dollar structure....

I really wish they'd quit conjuring images of any actual island or significant visible mass at all.

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