News > B.C. and federal governments form committee to coordinate the handling of Japanese tsunami debris

B.C. and federal governments form committee to coordinate the handling of Japanese tsunami debris

posted on 3:03 PM, March 28, 2012

March 27, 2012 - source:  eSource Canada Business News Network

A Japanese fishing trawler floating off the B.C. coast is among the first verified objects of debris that has reached Canada following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

In Canada, the Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee co-chaired by provincial and federal representatives has been created to manage any tsunami debris that arrives on B.C.’s coast in the coming months. Although there is no certainty regarding the arrival of the debris on Canada’s shores, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and University of Hawaii models suggest the bulk of it will arrive in 2013.

“NOAA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have suggested that one-third or less of the mass may actually make it here [to Canada],” the coordinating committee says in a press release. “The other two-thirds (of non-sinking material) will go back toward Hawaii or end up in the North Pacific convergence zone ? an area in the ocean where objects come together in something like an eddy and form a massive garbage pile.”

The committee is trying to educate Canadians not to keep the objects as keepsakes. Transport Canada salvage rules note that “a ship that sinks or goes aground, or cargo that is lost over the side is still the property of the original owner ? the shipper, the company to which a vessel is registered or an insurance company.”

The committee says it does not believe there will be any issues with radioactive contamination of the debris, although it will test as a precaution. The tsunami did cause a meltdown of several reactors in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but most of the debris would have been swept away from Japan prior to the issues with the nuclear reactors.

Owner of boat swept across Pacific by tsunami doesn't want it back

The owner of a fishing boat in Japan that drifted across the Pacific after getting washed away from its moorings by last year’s huge tsunami does not want it back, a Japanese official said Tuesday.

The 65-meter vessel was spotted last week by a Canadian Forces aircraft on a routine surveillance patrol.

A military photo shows the ship, streaked with rust but intact, floating 150 nautical miles off the southern coast of Haida Gwaii islands, some 1,500 kilometers north of Vancouver.

A Japanese coast guard spokesman said the boat belonged to a fishing firm in Hakodate, Hokkaido, and had been anchored in Hachinohe, Aomori, when the tsunami struck.

“The owner told us it is not needed anymore,” said the spokesman.

The unidentified owner told Japanese media he had given up hope of seeing the boat.

“I had not dreamed that it would cross the Pacific,” the Yomiuri Shimbun quoted him as saying.

“I have already abandoned my proprietary right. I would like (the Japanese government) to help scrap it by talking to countries concerned.”

The vessel is the largest item confirmed to have crossed the Pacific Ocean after the tsunami in March last year, but it is thought to be at the vanguard of a huge swirl of debris ripped from the shore.

Ocean researchers based in Hawaii are monitoring the flotsam from the tsunami, including household appliances, cars and parts of houses, which they earlier predicted would reach western North America early next year.

The Japanese fishing boat is not expected to make landfall for another 50 days, observers said.

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