Home International News Activists Try Giant Screen to Clean Up Guatemalan River

Activists Try Giant Screen to Clean Up Guatemalan River

GUATEMALA CITY — The nonprofit organization The Ocean Cleanup has installed a huge steel mesh screen on a heavily polluted river outside Guatemala, in an effort to stop plastic and other waste before they reach the ocean.

The Las Vacas River is littered with mounds of waste deposited by fluctuating river currents. When the rainy season kicks in, everything downstream could be swept into the Caribbean, if it weren’t for a device the group calls an Interceptor Trashfence.

The screen looks like a large metal cyclone fence that stretches across the riverbed and is anchored to the riverbanks. On Wednesday, the device collected so much waste that a part appeared to be kinking.

“What we’re trying to do is help clean up,” said Boyan Slat, director of Ocean Cleanup, noting that “we’ve never seen such plastic pollution.” He estimates that the Las Vacas River carries about 20,000 tons of waste every year.

Tests are underway to find the correct way to install the barrier.

“We continue to evaluate variables such as fence height, mesh size and foundation security during this trial period in Guatemala,” the group said in a statement.

The waste has sparked complaints in Honduras, whose shores are where much of the plastic ends up.

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