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TDOT, partners install automated litter and debris removal devices across Tennessee River watershed

Tennessee Aquarium staff empty the Seabin on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has teamed up with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTRB) and other partners to establish a network of Seabin automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed.

Seabin devices work continuously to skim and collect marine debris from the surface of the water. Each receptacle can remove up to 3,000 pounds of marine debris a year and will also filter out gasoline, oils, and microplastics from the water. The 17-Seabin deployment will be the world’s largest network of such devices in a river system.

The network was made possible through grants from TDOT and Keep America Beautiful (KAB). TDOT’s contribution includes the purchase and installation of 10 devices at locations throughout Tennessee, as well as funding for 2 years of water-based cleanups of the river and its tributaries within the state.  The grant was made in conjunction with the Department’s Nobody Trashes Tennessee litter prevention campaign.

“TDOT’s partnership with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful demonstrates the link between roadside litter and debris that ends up in our waterways,” said TDOT Commissioner Joseph Galbato. “Investing in this substantial network of litter removal devices is another example of how TDOT promotes innovative solutions to making our state cleaner and keeping our waterways clear.”

In addition to the Tennessee Seabins, two devices will be installed on the Tennessee River in Alabama, and another will be deployed on a tributary in North Carolina. The Seabin network features the following locations:

  • Tellico Marina & Lake in Vonore
  • Louisville Landing Marina in Louisville                                                
  • Volunteer Landing Marina in Knoxville
  • Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga
  • Harrison Bay State Park in Soddy-Daisy.
  • Pickwick Landing State Park in Hardin County
  • Paris Landing State Park in Henry County
  • Lake Ocoee Inn & Marina in Benton
  • Clifton RV & Marina in Clifton
  • Fontana Village Resort & Marina in Fontana, N.C.
  • Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Ala.
  • Florence Harbor Marina in Florence, Ala.

“Until now, all of our work has only been able to prevent microplastics in our waterways, so we are thrilled to be making an effort to actually mitigate microplastics out of the water,” said Kathleen Gibi, Executive Director for KTRB. “We’re grateful to TDOT and Keep America Beautiful for these—as I see it—revolutionary grants and to our partners who will be maintaining the Seabins to make this trailblazing project possible.”

A demonstration of the Seabin device and announcement of the new network was made in Chattanooga this morning. The announcement coincides with World Water Day and the event was sponsored by representatives from TDOT, Keep America Beautiful, the City of Chattanooga, and the Tennessee Aquarium.

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is continuing to work with stakeholders to identify the most impactful locations for five remaining Seabin devices. To have a device installed, hosts must provide electricity, regular maintenance, and track the quantity of litter collected. Interested parties, such as river-based businesses or local governments, are encouraged to contact to discuss potential sites.