Japan's tsunami debris set for 10-year Pacific tour

Jun 21, 2011
This image released by the US Navy Visual News Service shows an aerial view of debris on March 13, 2011 from an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck northern Japan. Debris sucked from the shoreline of Japan by the March 11 tsunami has embarked on a 10-year circuit of the North Pacific, posing an enduring threat to shipping and wildlife, a French green group says.

Debris sucked from the shoreline of Japan by the March 11 tsunami has embarked on a 10-year circuit of the North Pacific, posing an enduring threat to shipping and wildlife, a French green group says.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami created an estimated 25 million tonnes of waste, "countless quantities" of which swept out to sea when the wave receded, Robin des Bois () said.

The debris includes dense forms as diverse as planes, ships, cars and chemical tanks, which after sinking will become an inshore hazard for trawlers and the environment by leaking oil, fuel and industrial fluids, it said.

Thick mats of floating wood and plastic will take between one and two years to cross the Pacific and then split into two large patches, the group said in a report dated May 31.

One will head northwards parallel to the eastern Pacific coast, drifting on the Alaskan Current.

The other will head southwards, floating on the California Current.

Part of this southerly debris will split off, joining a gentle vortex of well-documented waste in the eastern Pacific that is called the Eastern Garbage Patch.

The rest of the southern branch will then head back across the Pacific under the North Equatorial Current, which will take it to the so-called Western Garbage Patch.

"The entire voyage around the North Pacific could take around 10 years," Robin des Bois said.

It pointed to many hazards for the environment, including the breakup of plastic into called "plastic " which accumulates in the .

In March, a devised by researchers at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii predicted Hawaiian beaches would see the first pieces of debris washing up around a year after the disaster.

Explore further: Europe still off mark on sustainability goals: report

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plastic catamaran has message on a bottle

Jul 23, 2010

The crew of a catamaran made from plastic bottles and about to complete a Pacific crossing said Friday they hoped their odyssey would highlight the danger that plastic waste poses to the oceans.

Flotsam from Japan's tsunami to hit US West Coast

Apr 01, 2011

(AP) -- John Anderson has discovered just about everything during the 30 years he's combed Washington state's beaches - glass fishing floats, hockey gloves, bottled messages, even hundreds of mismatched pairs ...

Recommended for you

Music festivals go cleaner, greener

9 hours ago

Every summer, tens of thousands of people across Australia revel in live outdoor music, staying for a day or pitching their tents for a weekend. When the music dies, however, what's left may be less appealing ...

Did climate change help spark the Syrian war?

Mar 02, 2015

A new study says a record drought that ravaged Syria in 2006-2010 was likely stoked by ongoing manmade climate change, and that the drought may have helped propel the 2011 Syrian uprising. Researchers say ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.