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Japan’s tsunami debris headed for West Coast, then Hawaii

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    A local firefighter stands amidst debris in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami-destroyed city of Rikuzentakata, northern Japan Friday, March 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

SEATTLE >> A Seattle oceanographer says some debris from Japan’s tsunami and earthquake may wash up on the West Coast in about one to three years, before currents carry it towards Hawaii.

Curt Ebbesmeyer says how fast the flotsam arrives depends on the material. A derelict vessel could take 12 months, while a rubber ducky may take two to three years.

He says the floating debris will likely flow in a big circle, carried by currents from Japan to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia before turning toward Hawaii and back toward Asia.

Most of the debris will be plastic items. Heavier items like cars will sink.

Ebbesmeyer and another scientist have been mapping the path of ocean debris for years and he wrote a book about the research.


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