Alaskan coastline filled with 2011 Japanese Tsunami debris, including a ghost ship
Alaska is filing the effects of the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, four years after the tragedy occurred. The Tsunami sent almost 5 million tons of trash in the Pacific Ocean, some of which has collected on the Alaska coastline. The cleanup effort will be underway this week after years of planning and fund raising.
Alaska has the biggest coastline than any other state and a cleanup effort of this scale and magnitude has never been attempted on the shores.
1 Tsunami debris
The 2011 Japanese Tsunami resulted in lots of trash such as fishing line, Styrofoam, broken trees, fuel drums and urethane being released into the ocean. Also many of the ships were caught in the devastation and drifted in the ocean aimlessly. Such debris and trash are harmful for the flora and fauna of the ocean and also to the inhabitants of the shores where this debris will accumulate.
2 Alaskan concern
The Alaskan coastal authorities are no strangers to trash being accumulated on the coastline of islands and some places are really remote. Things such as Styrofoam, fishing lines, plastic, corroded metal can be very harmful for the local flora and fauna.
“You’re basically standing in a land fill out here,” said Chris Pallister, president of the nonprofit Gulf of Alaska Keeper. Nikolai Maximenko, of International Pacific Research Center added, “Even without the tsunami, Alaska is well-known for being polluted with all these buoys and other stuff from fisheries activity and from other human activities.”
Though not many people visit these islands and places, but the primary concern as stated is of foam disintegrating and seeping into the salmon streams and/or being ingested by the birds, which can prove fatal for them.
3 Cleanup efforts and difficulties
The Alaskan authorities calculated the cost of cleanup up to $1.3 million, with the state contributing $900,000 from its share of the $5 million that Japan provided for parts of the U.S. affected by tsunami debris. Raising such kind of money took 4 years of campaigns and planning. Dump trucks will be used to carry the bags of debris to the Kodiak storage yard.
The first part will be to differentiate between the debris that washes up regularly to Alaskan shore from the Tsunami ones. Also places like Montague and Kayak islands will be difficult to clean up as they are only accessible via boats, hence the crew will work in day and sleep on the boats in nights.
4 Waste disposal and recycling of materials
Crews plan to start the cleanup work by sorting out the debris first. Then the material will be loaded onto a barge using heavy duty carry bags. In some locations dump trucks will be used to carry the bags while in other locations, bags will be airlifted using helicopters to the barge which is almost a football size huge.
These debris will be taken to Seattle for recycling, while the remaining will be taken for disposal to Oregon.