Town installs booms in Merrimack River

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Aug. 11—A resident petitioned article which passed during the 2021 Town Meeting has come to fruition. It was article No. 30, which proposed the appropriation of $75,000 "to pay the costs for purchasing services for the collection and removal of floatable solid waste debris from the Merrimack River."

Last week Andover launched two booms, described by Andover Conservation Land Manager Marisa Browning-Kamins as 50-foot orange floating balloons, "with a skirt that hangs down into the water."

Browning-Kamins likens them to a chain of pool noodles and said they are often used after oil spills. The booms are deployed in a U-shape in order to collect debris floating down the river.

"It catches right in the boom, then it sweeps in close to the shoreline," she said.

Clean Harbors, a company contracted by the town, collects the trash twice each month.

The booms catch a lot of lighter plastics, like water bottles, couch cushions, traffic cones and litter," said Browning-Kamins, "while larger objects will be pushed towards the shore."

Browning-Kamins said booms in the the Merrimack River are crucial.

"It runs through so many communities that I think it picks up a lot of trash upstream and carries it down," she explained.

The booms will remain in the water through November or until the water starts to freeze.

Browning-Kamins estimates enough funding for the project to run for at least two seasons.

Methuen and Lawrence have in the past put booms into the river with their own city lines.

Browning-Kamins thanked the Andover Village Society for help with the project as well as other members of the community.

She said, "We are really grateful that the community was able to rally and help make it possible."