Cleanup workers will soon attack a jumble of debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami that litters an Alaskan island, as residents in the state gear up to scour their shores for everything from buoys to building material that has floated across the Pacific.
The cleansing project slated to start on Friday on Montague Island is expected to last a couple weeks, and organizers say it marks the first major project in Alaska to collect and dispose of debris from the tsunami.
The March 2011 tsunami, caused by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, killed nearly 16,000 people and left over 3,000 missing on Japan’s main island of Honshu, and precipitated a major radiation release at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant…
While debris from Japan is also floating toward other U.S. states along the West Coast, Alaska has a more extensive shoreline, much of it difficult to reach.
Montague is an uninhabited island at the entrance to Prince William Sound, southeast of Anchorage. About a dozen volunteers and employees from the environmental group Gulf of Alaska Keeper and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies will handle the debris-removal project at the island.
“We’ll probably remove 30 to 40 tons from there. That’s just a start,” said Patrick Chandler, special programs coordinator for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.
Japan has estimated 5 million tons of debris was swept out to sea, but that most of it sank, leaving 1.5 million tons floating. Still, those figures are rough estimates, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…
With more debris headed for the West Coast, questions about cleanup costs remain unanswered. Those expenses could be high in Alaska because of geographic and weather challenges.
Beachcombing was part of my life for a reasonable spell back in New England. It’s hard for most folks to imagine what comes ashore – from where – in the normal course of time. An event like the Fukushima Tsunami blows everything normal way
out of proportion.