There are a handful of large cities around the world where surfing right after a storm is just a bad idea. Los Angeles is one of the most notorious, where unreal levels of pollution flow through our watersheds and leave beaches and lineups full of…well, trash.
I’ll admit the whole ordeal is one of those things you imagine is just overhyped until you actually see the drastic before and after changes surrounding a significant storm in Southern California. An invention called the Interceptor puts all this on display in real-time though, offering some visual proof of both the problem and some much-needed mitigation.
There are a handful of these giant trash interceptors installed in different places around the globe and L.A. County installed the first (and currently only) one in the United States earlier this year. The pilot program for Interceptor 007 was installed along L.A.’s Ballona Creek, which typically sends an estimated 30 to 60 tons of trash straight to Marina Del Rey’s southern break wall each year. The device itself works somewhat like the Ocean Cleanup’s barges deployed for collecting trash from the Great Pacific Garbage patch, only the Interceptor models are stationed along rivers and creeks to stop the flow of trash into the nearby ocean.
Large nets block the larger pieces of trash while letting water continue toward the ocean. The trash is then fed into a barge that sifts and sorts it all out. According to the Ocean Cleanup organization, approximately 80 percent of river plastics around the world come from just 1,000 rivers, meaning a simple machine like this could tackle a massive part of our ocean pollution challenges if and when they’re deployed in the right strategic points.
“When you actually see all that trash together, that huge patch, and you think wow, that’s what was on our beaches? That’s what all the wildlife was playing in? It’s crazy,” says Danny Devaldenebro, who lives near the marina. “I can’t believe we actually figured out something that can help this.”