Alameda Sun: Ocean Cleanup Set to Launch, September 4, 2018


Ocean Cleanup (OC) announced that it finished the six-month task of assembling “System 001” at Alameda Point last Friday, Aug. 31. Tomorrow, Sept. 7, the company will transfer the system from Seaplane Lagoon to the offshore supply ship Maersk Launcher. Then on Sunday the Launcher, with System 001 in tow, will sail out the Golden Gate on its way to help clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).

Located halfway between Hawaii and California, GPGP is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans. OC faces a challenge more complicated than simply vacuuming a garbage patch floating on the top of Pacific Ocean waters. In fact, calling this accumulation of debris a “garbage patch” does not accurately describe what awaits OC.

The United States Department of Commerce’s National Ocean Service (NOS) tells us that GPGP is not a large and continuous patch of easily visible marine debris such as bottles and other litter and is not akin to a literal island of trash that should be visible with satellite or aerial photographs.

Instead of attacking the non-conventional garbage patch with conventional vessels and nets, OC is deploying a “passive system,” which the company says will remove half the massive garbage patch in five years. OC describes System 001 as “a 600-meter- (1,969-foot-) long floater that sits at the surface of the water with a tapered 3-meter- (10-foot-) deep skirt attached below. OC says that the floater provides buoyancy to the system and prevents plastic from flowing over it, while the skirt stops debris from escaping underneath.