Tsunami Debris: What to Expect

Leading edge of vast field of debris hitting West Coast
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2012 1:49 AM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2012 4:00 AM CDT
Tsunami Debris: What to Expect
Canadian artist Peter Clarkson poses with a totem pole of marine debris believed to have come from Japan.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

(Newser) – As debris from the Japanese tsunami—including a ghost ship and a soccer ball—begins to reach the shores of the US and Canada, officials want the public to know what to expect. Huge amounts of debris are expected to wash up, but with the debris field having dispersed over thousands of miles, items are expected to arrive intermittently over the next couple of years, CNN reports. Building materials, fishing nets, and barrels of potentially hazardous materials are expected, but officials say bodies are not expected, and radioactive material is unlikely.

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"We expect there to be an upswing in debris on the shore," say an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The interesting thing is, we don't know where it's going to be, and we think it is going to be spread out." On its advice page, the agency says volunteers cleaning up marine debris should follow common sense and put safety first, and be especially careful around containers of chemicals, which should be reported to authorities instead of handled. Personal items that could be identified should be reported to the NOAA, which will work with Japanese authorities to return them to their owners. (Read more NOAA stories.)

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