Japan debris may hit US coast

2011-04-08 17:04
Cape Town - An oceanographer believes that debris from the Japanese tsunami may wash up on the west coast of the US in about three years.

"I'm expecting parts of houses, whole boats and feet in sneakers to wash up," Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer told MailOnline.

Many Japanese are still listed as missing following the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on March 11. Debris from the tsunami was washed out to sea and Ebbesmeyer said that it might travel across the Pacific to the west coast of the US.

The US Navy has photographed the debris and warned that it may be a threat to shipping traffic.

"It's very challenging to move through these to consider these boats run on propellers and that these fishing nets or other debris can be dangerous to the vessels that are actually trying to do the work," Ensign Vernon Dennis told ABC News.

Low risk

The Japanese battled radiation leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which has recently been plugged. The radiation levels from the debris will not pose significant risks, according to experts.

"But it [radiation] would be [a] very low risk. The amount that would be on the stuff by the time it reached the West Coast would be minimal," said James Hevezi, chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Medical Physics.

Scientists stressed that given the scale of the debris from the tsunami, most of the debris would not reach the coast and it would be largely dependent on factors like buoyancy, wind and current.

"If the items aren't blown ashore by winds or get caught up in another oceanic gyre, they'll continue to drift in the North Pacific loop and complete the circle in about six years," Ebbesmeyer said.

The debris also poses a risk for migrating marine life which may become tangled, especially in plastic garbage.
- News24
Read more on:    japan earthquake
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