Pacific Garbage Patch a 'Ticking Time Bomb'

Floating mass of trash even bigger than once thought
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2015 10:00 AM CDT
Pacific Garbage Patch a 'Ticking Time Bomb'
This image provided by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Mario Aguilera)

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch that floats between California and Hawaii is even bigger than scientists believed—about twice the size of Texas, specifically. "We were surrounded by an endless layer of garbage," a marine biologist who works for the Ocean Cleanup, which ran a survey expedition that returned yesterday, tells the AP. "It was devastating to see." Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat, the 21-year-old behind the Ocean Cleanup, says that "if we don't clean it up soon, then we will give the big plastic the time to break down into smaller and smaller pieces," though the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Slat's expedition found about 80% of the larger plastic out there hadn't broken down yet.

"Based on what we've seen out there, the only way to describe the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a ticking time bomb," Slat says. He believes he can clean it up in 10 years, using floating barriers that are fixed to the seafloor. Current ocean garbage collection methods use nets, which Slat says is inefficient. "By using floating booms instead of nets, much larger areas will be covered," he explains on his Indiegogo page. "Not using mesh means that even the smallest particles will be diverted and extracted." The campaign raised nearly $90,000, and other fundraising efforts provided the "Ocean Cleanup Concept" with about $2.2 million. Slat hopes to begin the cleanup in 2020. (More Great Pacific Garbage Patch stories.)

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