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Debris from Japan expected in Alaska

Posted: December 20, 2011 - 12:01am

ANCHORAGE — Debris from the tsunami in Japan nine months ago has not been detected on Alaska shores, but that may be because harsh weather is keeping people from beachcombing.

Debris has been reported in Washington and British Columbia and Alaskans should be seeing it soon, the Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

The Alaska Panhandle has been hit hard by storms but the area around Craig on Prince of Wales Island could be the first place where debris from the March 11 tsunami lands, said Dave Gaudet of the Marine Conservation Alliance.

Alaskans could see tons of debris from Japan’s tsunami washing up on coastal beaches soon. Gaudet said he had been in touch with people in Craig who had said bad weather was making it impractical to scout around the sprawling and sparsely inhabited island, which is about 500 miles north of Tofino in the middle of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Tofino is where Canadian television on Wednesday showed photos of bottles and metal containers that had washed up.

A Russian ship in September reported encountering a very large stretch of debris 2,000 miles from Japan. By some estimates the area of the debris field is twice the size of Texas.

Experts warn that debris should be approached cautiously because the earthquake and tsunami damaged nuclear facilities and water contained in items that float across the Pacific Ocean may be radioactive.

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