Facebook’s Jupiter cable loses kit at bottom of sea

Facebook’s Jupiter cable loses kit at bottom of sea

06 August 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Facebook appears to be in trouble with the local community in Oregon, one of the landing points for its Jupiter cable.

In February residents of Tierra del Mar were trying to stop the social media company building a landing station there.

Now, having started work on the cable, Edge Cable Holdings, the construction company working on the cable, has lost its drilling equipment at the bottom of the sea, causing local outrage.

“The accident represents negligence on behalf of the operator, as the equipment was pushed beyond its limits, putting lives and Oregon’s natural resources at risk,” wrote two residents to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), which owns the land, according to local newspaper, the Tillamook Headlight Herald.

They told the department: “Failure to notify the agency, and abandonment of equipment now apparently unrecoverable on and below the ocean floor, is not only a violation of Edge Cable’s permit, but represents a continuing and permanent trespass of public lands.”

The landing point in Oregon is one of two at the eastern end of the 14,557km cable – with the other being Hermosa Beach, California.

The cable is owned by Amazon Web Services, NTT, PLDT, PCCW Global and Softbank, as well as Facebook. It runs to Daet in the Philippines and two locations in Japan.

According to the Oregon local newspaper, in a report picked up by the Submarine Telecoms Forum, equipment lost at the bottom of the sea includes 1,100ft of drill pipe, a drill tip, two tools for drill steering and tracking, and approximately 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid.

The Oregon Coast Alliance said, ironically in a post on its Facebook page: “It is now too late to recover the equipment.” State agencies are “reviewing their options” under the permit conditions.

Oregon Coast Alliance said it “supports the agencies in their emergency assessments. We also call upon both agencies to withdraw their permits immediately, and end this ill-considered project that should never have been approved in the first place. It has caused the residents of Tierra del Mar much grief and stress, damaged the ocean and the shore, and set an ugly precedent.”

The alliance says the failure happened in late April but Edge Cable did not notify the authorities until June – and it has only come to light in the past few days. Work is scheduled to resume in January, say local media.