Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paper: First Japan debris hits US, Canada — People warned about radiation — Recommended for Police to have Geiger counters — “Bodies will likely begin washing up in about a year”

First debris from Japanese earthquake/tsunami reaches Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Peninsula Daily News, Dec. 14, 2011:
The first piece of debris that could be identified as washing up on the West Coast from the March 11 tsunami in Japan — a large black float — was found on a Neah Bay beach two weeks ago, Seattle oceanographers Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Jim Ingraham said Tuesday night.
Since then, the two researchers [...] have learned that the black, 55-gallon drum-sized floats also have been found on Vancouver Island.
Ebbesmeyer on Debris Threat
  • About a quarter of the 100 million tons of debris from Japan is expected to make landfall on beaches from southern Alaska to California
  • Possibly in volumes large enough to clog ports
  • Flotsam in a current travels an average of seven miles per hour
  • can move as much as 20 mph if it has a large area exposed to the wind
  • Many of those bodies and parts of bodies will likely begin washing up in about a year
  • Large items still in the water should be reported to the Coast Guard, as they may represent a hazard to boats and ships
  • Some shipping lanes have already been rerouted to avoid the worst of the debris
Ebbesmeyer on Radiation Contamination Threat
  • People should also be aware of the possibility of radiation contamination
  • The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant leaked a large amount of radiation into the water
  • No one knows what levels of contamination there are in the currents, and the
  • [No one knows what levels of contamination there are in] items being carried in those currents
  • [Suggests] local police take steps to have sensitive Geiger counters available to scan items
  • The event was unprecedented, and no one knows yet what levels of radiation, if any, items have picked up
Ebbesmeyer on Importance of Debris to Japanese
  • “All debris should be treated with a great reverence and respect”
  • Families in Japan are waiting to hear of any items that may have been associated with their loved ones
  • May travel to the U.S. to meet those who found these mementos
  • Rafts of debris include whole houses which may still contain many personal items
  • Japanese are known for storing important personal mementos in walls
  • Even the smallest of traceable items may be the only thing associated with one of those people who were lost
  • Contact Ebbesmeyer at for assistance
  • “I have a translator to read things in Japanese”

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