Japanese tsunami debris to reach North American coast any day now

Japanese tsunami debris

We knew a pile of junk was headed out way from Asia (and we’re not talking about cheap imports from China), but it looks like debris from the Japanese tsunami will reach North American earlier than expected.

So much earlier, that it may already be making landfall.

See video of Japan’s destructive tsunami

This, despite earlier projections that the millions of tonnes of debris would get here by 2014.

But oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer (recently featured in a National Post article) claims to have a more accurate measure of tracking the debris field, and says it could reach British Columbia’s pristine coast any day now.

It is estimated that there is a 20-million-tonne debris field in the Pacific Ocean  – equivalent to the state of California. In it, anything and everything that was swept out to sea when the massive tsunami retreated after causing total devastation to countless Japanese towns and cities in March 2011.

While the majority of this debris is still expected to arrive sometime in 2014, Ebbesmeyer has been tracking some of the larger items – boats, homes, appliances – and says these items are likely to arrive much more quickly than thought thanks to extra speed picked up from the wind.

He says most models have been based strictly on ocean currents, which would have most objects moving at about 11 km a day. But larger items sticking out of the water are capable of acting like a sail, moving the debris nearly three times faster, he said.

This is good news for beachcombers on the west coast, but clean up crews are likely to be overwhelmed once the majority of garbage arrives.

There have been calls on the governments of both the U.S. and Canada to come up with a plan of action on how to deal with the massive amount of debris. As it turns out, they may want to get started on that sooner rather than later.