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Debris from Japan earthquake drifts in Pacific

Oct 28, 2011
<p>A Japanese fishing boat picked up by the Russian sail training vessel Pallada (click to enlarge).</p>

A Japanese fishing boat picked up by the Russian sail training vessel Pallada (click to enlarge).

According to a report from the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) at the University of Hawaii, up to 20 million tons of debris swept out to sea by the tsunami in Japan in March is slowly drifting eastward. IPRC projections have debris coming ashore on Hawaii by 2013 and even reaching the U.S. West Coast by 2014.

The debris field was recently spotted by STS Pallada, a Russian sail training ship, west of Midway Island at 31° 042.21' N and 174° 045.21' E. The debris was found where drift projections by IPRC scientists said it should be.

Pallada crew found an open fishing vessel and brough it aboard their ship. Pallada's report from September 27 gives an idea of the extent of the debris: “We keep sighting every day things like wooden boards, plastic bottles, buoys from fishing nets (small and big ones), an object resembling wash basin, drums, boots, other wastes. All these objects are floating by the ship.”

IPRC scentists are eager to get reports from any vessels that encounter the debris. Contact them at: iprc-help@lists.hawaii.edu

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