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Ocean Cleanup system heading back to land for repairs

Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat has reported that his Ocean Cleanup invention has suffered a ‘structural malfunction’ and is returning to shore for repairs. Slat had taken the extra work into consideration before launching the iconic project and says this is not really a major setback, but rather a predictable repair job.

The Ocean Cleanup craft left San Francisco harbour last September and during the last couple of weeks has been collecting mostly plastics from a well-known marine litter hotspot, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. System 001 of Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup solution successfully reached the site on 16 October last year after making progress at an average tow speed of between two and four knots.

Extensive monitoring was carried out round-the-clock on the U-shaped system, Slat says. A small repair had already taken place before the entrepreneur announced that System 001 had to be ‘upgraded’ on shore before it could effectively continue with its clean-up mission. This work will be conducted on the Hawaiian island Oahu, and is intended to better equip the original version to handle the rough waves, undercurrents and tropical weather at the heart of the sea.

The Dutch entrepreneur admits that he hardly imagined the ambitious operation would succeed without any interruptions. Instead of fixing the broken part in the middle of the ocean, Slat reasoned it was safer to take ‘Wilson’ to the closest port. (As you may have guessed; the system was nicknamed Wilson after the volleyball in the Tom Hanks film ‘Cast Away’.)

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics and is situated halfway between Hawaii and California.

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