A trash collection device that broke apart while deployed in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii was scheduled to arrive to the Big Island on Sunday.
The 2,000-foot (600-meter) long floating boom was being towed to Hilo after its support crew discovered that a structural malfunction had caused an 18-meter section to detach late last month, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .
The U-shaped barrier was towed in September from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of trash twice the size of Texas. The barrier is intended to act like a coastline to trap pieces of plastic swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.
The harbors division was coordinating with The Ocean Cleanup organization, said Tim Sakahara, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
“The organization will perform damage assessments, which will help determine the length of time the asset will be in Hilo Harbor,” Sakahara said. “Harbor operations will continue as scheduled without impact to other vessels or the general public.”
The Ocean Cleanup said the cause of the malfunction hasn’t been confirmed, but officials believe metal fatigue and a local stress concentration could have caused the fracture in the boom.