Estimated 1 Million Tons of Debris Afloat in the Pacific Ocean
Even though four years have already passed from the infamous earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that struck Japan, tons of debris continue to arrive on the shores of Oregon and Washington, and the trend will not stop soon. It is estimated that the debris will continue to come for the next three or four years.
It has been said that as much as 1 million tons of debris are afloat in the Pacific Ocean. According to one of cleanup volunteers, “a medley of stuff” was washed ashore last year. He spotted culinary items, lids and baskets. He has been cleaning the shore since 2011, and he has since properly removed truckloads of garbage that pose a danger to both human and animal life.
The first items that started arriving were lighter objects like foam, which could have easily be carried by wind. As the time progressed, so did the weight of the arriving objects increase – materials like wood and tires started coming next. Even several fishing boats were found on the US shore.
Oregon's Tsunami Debris Hotline received 1,742 phone calls since June 2012. The most calls came from the Lane County, 331 of them.
The University of Oregon works together with Japan's Tattori University to track the movement of the debris. The initial premise was that the debris traveled together with the current. However, it was established that it was lingering close to the shore for weeks or even months before starting to travel towards the open ocean.