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L.A. River Trash Diversion Boom Breaks After Upriver L.A. County Trash-Catcher Net Releases Heavy Load of Accumulated Debris

Boom operator says he'll fix boom in days, suggests closer coordination with L.A. County

L.A. river boom
Boom floats along L.A. river's west bank
south of Ocean Blvd. bridge

Digital photo, courtesy John Andersen

(January 11, 2001) An L.A. river trash diversion boom, meant to shove river garbage aside before it hits LB's beaches, broke early this morning after a heavy load of river debris was automatically released by L.A. County's upriver trash collection net.

David Balicki of Nautilus Marine Protection, which operates the boom on the west bank of the L.A. river between the Ocean Blvd. and Queensway bridges, told a large amount of river debris was released by L.A. County's upriver trash collection net. The County net, located upriver south of Anaheim St., automatically gave way and released the accumulated trash due to its heavy weight at roughly 1:45 a.m. which overwhelmed Nautlius' downriver boom.

"The [boom] system is designed to take a hit, but not quite that big," he said. Part of the Nautilus boom broke off and wound up in the river, along with a large amount of trash.

Mr. Balicki said the boom system consists of 50 foot tubular sections, about 28 inches in diameter and is designed to divert river trash into an area where it is collected. He said the arm that diverts trash into the collection area was pulled out by its anchors, swung downstream, rolled into a ball and then shoved back about 75-100 yards.

Donna Guyovich, a spokesperson for L.A. County's Department of Public Works, which controls the L.A. river channel and received state taxpayer grant money for the pilot boom project, confirmed the County's upriver trash collection net operated as designed in giving way and releasing the heavy accumulated debris automatically.

She said the diversion boom is "an innovative project that the County has entered into with Nautilus to try and do something about preventing the debris from entering our beach areas."

She added, "When you do test something, there are going to be pitfalls and so you correct those situations and then you try it again, and this is what we're doing...It's a very positive project...It's something that we really want to make work."

Mr. Balicki said he's working to make repairs quickly. "It looks like about two or three days to get everything back into shape again," he said.

As for the future, Mr. Balicki said, "As long as we can keep communications open between the two systems. It gets complicated when you have two separate systems working in one area of the river. We need to get a little more coordinated on how we plan for a major rain event."

He added, "I think to really exercise our system, we need to kind of eliminate that [L.A. County] net so we can try this system out rather than getting it buried."

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