Debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan, including some potentially toxic materials, is increasingly being discovered along the Alaska coastline.
Since January, millions of pieces of debris have washed ashore along the Alaska coast, from soccer balls and buoys to motorcycles and large drums containing unknown materials, according to the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation (MCAF), a Juneau-based group monitoring the debris.
In some areas, the group has observed mysterious sludge that apparently had leaked from the containers. “So we’re looking at a potential large-scale environmental problem, and what we’re dealing with now is just the start of it,” Merrick Burden, director of the MCAF, told the Juneau Daily News.
Much of the debris that has reached Alaska so far was likely pushed by west-to-east winds, and larger materials, driven by ocean currents, will start to reach the coast next year, officials say.
To help state officials better understand the future threats, MCAF is urging mariners, fishing boats, and beachcombers to take photos when they spot debris and report it to their project and the federal government.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.