Facebook left broken drilling equipment under the seafloor off the coast of the US state of Oregon after its plan to build a landing spot for an undersea fiber optic cable failed.
The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) announced in late July that Edge Cable Holdings, a subcontractor for Facebook, notified them of drilling equipment that was left behind during the undersea fiber optic cable project near Tierra Del Mar, a small community north of Pacific City.
“It is our understanding that the failure consisted of a broken drilling shaft, which has resulted in the loss of the drill head and associated drilling shaft, and that a portion of the shaft and empty conduit remain at various depths under the ocean shore,” wrote Jay Sennewald, Ocean Shores Coordinator with Oregon Parks & Recreation.
The company planned to bore a hole 3,000 feet out to sea, where it would connect with a cable from Asia. When hitting an area of hard rock on April 28, the drill pipe snapped 50 feet below the seafloor. The crew was able to recover part of the equipment, but some of it was left behind.
Although Edge Cable Holdings informed the county of the accident on May 5, it did not mention the abandoned equipment. This delay in notifying DSL apparently eliminated the option for recovery of the equipment.
The Oregonian newspaper reported Thursday that a Facebook spokeswoman confirmed the drilling equipment remains below the seafloor but claimed the company performed an environmental assessment and “determined that there is no negative environmental or public health impact from the drill head remaining at the site.”
Edge Cable hopes to continue the project in January 2021, but DSL is evaluating whether to grant them the permits to finish it.
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