Two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, debris continues to wash up on the shores of Hawaii and along the West Coast of North America. However, it has been difficult to distinguish which of the debris that reaches their shores are actually from Japan and which are just the normal trash that has long been a problem for the coastal areas.
Hawaii officials have so far confirmed seven items of debris this year that has reached them, including a blue plastic bin that still had a live bird inside. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Chris Pallister’s group, the Gulf of Alaska Keeper, says they have picked up almost a quarter-million pounds of debris just this clean-up season, compared to the normal 160,000 pounds a year that they get. But since there are no identifying markers for the Japan debris, it is difficult to precisely say which of those were from the tsunami. But Pallister thinks that because of the significant change in the volume, a significant percentage of what they picked up is from the tsunami. He calls it a “slow-moving environmental disaster” and the long-term impact of all this debris washing ashore is still unknown at this point.
The changing global climate is also playing a role in where and when the tsunami debris ends up. For example, Washington received its last piece of debris last April, but it is less than expected because of the ocean currents and the wind. Oregon was also expecting a large chunk of it to wash ashore, but so far, their marine debris hotline has only received an average call of once a day. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave the five West Coast states $250,000 from the $5 million gift that Japan gave to the US for the debris clean-up. Some of them have barely touched the money, and it is an issue that is slowly being forgotten. But no one has an idea of what is really still out there, even as officials continue to do more research to better understand the impact it will eventually have on the environment.
[ via AP ]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan