Japan's Tsunami Debris Hitting the West Coast
It has been a year since Japan's monster tsunami in March 2011 resulting from the earthquake. While cleanup from the quake is well on its way in Japan, the debris from that catastrophic event is now beginning to hit the West Coast of America. This could be the "floating" environmental disaster depending on what actually happens.
The first to be impacted is along the coastline of Alaska, south of Anchorage where Japan's waste has riddled 50 miles of shore. Experts indicate because of the ocean currents this is only the first wave of debris which has been found in Alaska, Washington and the shoreline between the Oregon and California border. So far, no radiation has been found but all kinds of other things are from large amounts of timber, trash, chairs, drums of toxic liquids, cars, motorcycles, small boats and fishing trawlers. There is more, like insulation material, shipping floats. But, the worse is coming, some five million tons of it according to NOAA and Japan.
Where is it?
According NOAA, their simulation studies show the highest concentration of debris is a few hundred miles north of Hawaii and maybe a thousand miles due west of San Francisco and LA. The ocean currents split south and north at the SF location. From there, debris will most likely head south to LA and San Diego. Lesser amounts will head northwards to Oregon.
NOAA has used technology to determine the speed of the debris. The speed depends on wind and ocean current and can range between one foot (12 in.) per second to 16 feet (5m) per second. The round trip from Japan to West Coast and back is around three years. At the fastest speed, it can drift 11 miles per hour or 264 miles a day. At that rate, the West Coast of California might start seeing the heavy amounts in the Summer of 2012. There is a more general agreement that the debris will really hit sometime in 2013.
Remember, there is also the "regular" trash that countries dump into the ocean and floats westward from Asia. This is no minuscule amount.