The January 2023 atmospheric storms hitting all of California this week call for a significant evaluation of the waste-capturing system designed to intercept trash from going into the Pacific Ocean. Designed by Ocean Cleanup, the Ballona Creek Trash Interceptor 007 is a solar-powered, experimental system that was put forth into fruition by the Los Angeles County Board of supervisors, back in November of 2019.
This device is the first one to be installed in the U.S., with 10 others effectively installed around the globe. The current Los Angeles based pilot project is to be conducted from the months of October to April, spanning the length of two full storm seasons – allowing the system to undergo heavy weather turmoil.
Removing trash off the streets of Los Angeles and all the connecting cities within can be a manual process, leaving room for error – an error that storms (especially heavy ones) can catalyst. About 1.5 million residents live in the areas surrounding the nine-mile long creek watershed, where evidently the city’s drain network feeds into.
The only trash collecting system currently in progress is the Lincoln trash boom located a mile upstream of the interceptor pilot project. This boom has been in working status for years catching LA debris. This net has developed some disadvantages – if rainfall becomes too heavy, the net will break away from the security holds and expel the trapped debris straight into the ocean. New projects, like the Interceptor 007, plan on reducing downfalls such as the previous one stated.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is categorizing this project as a taxpayer expense and funding will generate from the Los Angeles Flood Fund with support from environmental contractor Ocean Blue. During the pilot stage, the project is also exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, requiring the evaluation of environmental impacts for development or land use decisions. After April of 2024, the LA County Flood Control District will have the option to take full control of the project without cost and further environmental review.
Ocean Cleanup gained popularity after a TedX talk went viral and a large sum of crowdfunding that raised millions in donations. The contractor's main source of focus began with efforts in cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in between Hawaii and California.