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Japan's Tsunami Debris Hitting the West Coast

Updated on May 11, 2012
Even  Japanese homes are coming to the US! Still intact!
Even Japanese homes are coming to the US! Still intact!
NOAA's projection of the monster in the ocean. The  whole west coast may get literally "trashed".
NOAA's projection of the monster in the ocean. The whole west coast may get literally "trashed".

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.

How Fast?

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.

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    • profile image

      Lequisha 5 years ago

      You're right!

    • kschang profile image

      kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      Here's the link if any one wants to read it:

      http://www.yorkdispatch.com/news/ci_20570034/tsuna...

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 5 years ago

      That is great PR!

    • flacoinohio profile image

      flacoinohio 5 years ago from Ohio

      That is totally awesome of Harley Davidson to do that.

    • kschang profile image

      kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      There's a Harley from Japan that washed up on Canadian shores. Harley Davidson tracked down the owner, who survived (but lost most of his family). Harley is paying to ship it back to Japan and restoring it for free.

    • flacoinohio profile image

      flacoinohio 5 years ago from Ohio

      I have read many articles very similar to yours concerning the issue of Japanese debris washing ashore in Alaska and soon other parts of the West Coast. I was considering volunteering to assist in the clean up in Alaska. Some folks in Alaska are using the debris as art, while teachers are researching the names found on play items such as soccerballs and such and contacting the owners to let them now that their ball or other item has been found on the US coast.

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 5 years ago

      I agree. Well I suppose that the state where the debris lands gets to clean it up.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I didn't realize there was that much debris from the hit. Incredible! Who is responsible for the clean up or is this a concern? Interesting to read and very informative.

    • profile image

      DigbyAdams 5 years ago

      This is an amazing hub. Lots of incredible information to digest. I'm trying to imagine 5 million tons of debris headed toward Alaska and the west coast. It's good news that no radioactive materials have been found - yet. I hope that continues to be the case!