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Broken Drilling Gear Has Facebook in Hot Water

Company left behind equipment off coast of Oregon after mishap
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2020 1:53 PM CDT
Updated Aug 22, 2020 3:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – A drill bit ran into trouble and the drill pipe broke. And in this case, the drill bit was being used by Facebook to drill a hole off the coast of Oregon to hook up a transcontinental fiber-optic cable, reports the Oregonian. Now the controversial project in the small seaside community of Tierra Del Mar is even more controversial. It seems the Facebook subsidiary working on the project abandoned broken equipment under the ocean floor—including the drill tip, 1,100 feet of pipe, and 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid, per the Tillamook Headlight Herald, which was the first to report on the April mishap. The pipe snapped when the bit hit unexpectedly hard rock and became stuck. The company's current plan is to return in January to try drilling a hole again, but it will have to deal with angry state officials and locals first.

Facebook says it conducted an environmental assessment and concluded that retrieval of the equipment wasn't necessary. "There is no negative environmental or public health impact from the drill head remaining at the site," says a spokeswoman. That may be true, but the state says the company still violated its permit by leaving the gear behind—Facebook doesn't have permission to "store" equipment at the site. Now it's facing fines and legal headaches as it attempts to regroup on the project. Locals, meanwhile, want the project scrapped. They opposed it to begin with, and as one puts it, "We don’t trust them. Someone has come in and left junk in our backyard, and they feel no remorse." (Read more Facebook stories.)

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