Scientists prepare for tsunami debris on Oregon Coast

Scientists prepare for tsunami debris on Oregon Coast

Tsunami waves swirl near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, FOR COMMERCIAL USE ONLY IN NORTH AMERICA, NO SALES

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by David Krough

NWCN.com

Posted on February 1, 2012 at 4:10 PM

PORTLAND - Within a month, items lost in the Japanese tsunami last year should start washing ashore on the Oregon Coast, according to scientists.

Experts said debris would be washing up all year long. Debris in the ocean that arrives in the fall and winter will get pushed up further north by the currents to Washington, British Columbia and even Alaska.

"Wind, rain and salt spray have been pummeling this material for months,” Oregon State University professor Kathryn Higley said. “Most of the iodine has gone because of radioactive decay. (from a damaged nuclear plant radiation release)."

Earlier this week, a Japanese consulate official from Seattle has visited the home of a Port Angeles man to inspect a large black float he found near Neah Bay to determine if it's some of the first debris to reach the Northwest.

OSU oceanographer Jack Barth said a Russian ship discovered a small Japanese fishing boat in the waters north of Hawaii in October that was definitively tied to the tsunami. NOAA reported no radiation was detected on the fishing boat.

“Much of the debris generated from the earthquake and tsunami has or will become waterlogged, weighed down with barnacles or other organisms, and sink,” Barth said. “A large fraction of it will be diverted south into the ‘Garbage Patch’ between Hawaii and the West Coast, and may circulate in that gyre.

Tomoko Dodo, from the Consulate General of Japan’s office in Seattle, has asked that persons finding something that could be considered a personal “keepsake” for a survivor report it to local authorities, or the consulate in Seattle at 206-682-9107.

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