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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Japanese Debris Washing Up In Canada

I suppose it should not come as any great surprise, but debris suspected to be from Japan (perhaps because there is Japanese writing on them - according to Tofino mayor Perry Schmunk) has been washing up on Canadian shores near Tofino, British Columbia over the past few months.

The question, however, is whether this debris is actually debris from the March 11, 2011 tsunami that battered the northeast coast of Japan following the 9.0 Magnitude earthquake OR if it is just regular old ocean garbage.

Schmunk says that within a 10 minute span, he saw more floating debris than he had in four years total of walking along the beach at Schooner Cove.  

While the tsunami killed some 19,000 plus people, thousands more pets and scores of wildlife also died. Not wanting to take any chances, Japan has reached out to the Province of British Columbia to ask them to keep watch for items along the coast that may be personal effects of citizens living in Japan. (This blog can't say that everyone who died in the disasters was Japanese - because that wouldn't be true.)

While the debris that has landed on the B.C. beaches consists of such materials as plastic and glass bottles, planks of shattered wood, a baby's sock, toothbrushes, and much, much more, there are reports that the overall tsunami debris still floating about the Pacific Ocean includes—according to reports—cars, tractor trailers, capsized ships, severed feet still in their shoes, and even whole houses - all bobbing along on the water moving towards the left coast of Canada and the U.S. 

Part of the problem, is that while debris was expected, it just wasn't expected this soon, with debris first arriving on B.C. shores back in December 2011. It was just two month earlier that scientists at the University of Hawaii said that the first of 20-million tonnes of tsunami debris could hit the B.C. coast by the year 2014. The debris, according to this research team, could include mundane items like television sets, to parts of boats or body parts.

Japan consul-general Ito Hideki (surname first) contacted B.C. Ucluelet mayor Bill Irving and Schmunk to discuss what can be done if more sensitive items show up on the region's beaches.

Says Schmunck: "There's a very real possibility that we'll have some stuff come ashore here.

"His message to us was that if we see something that has some personal connection to somebody back in Japan, they will make every effort to get it back to their people."

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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