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Pacific Ocean under threat from tsunami debris

Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The tsunami which swept through Japan on 11 March causing massive devastation up to 10 kilometres inland has left in its wake a huge floating mass of debris in the Pacific Ocean. 


French environmental organisation, Robin des Bois, says the wrecks of cars, boat, even airplanes, have formed a mass that will gradually make its way around the north pacific region over the next ten years.

The association warns some of the heavier objects have sunk and are already releasing toxic substances such as solvents and pesticides into the ocean.

“The ocean is not just contaminated by radioactivity,” says the association. “There is also a huge risk of large objects, such as cargo containers and trees trunks, or boats and submarines, colliding with each other.”

The organisation believes lighter objects, like plastic bottles and food packaging, will be caught up in the ocean’s currents and form what it describes as the ‘Eastern Garbage Patch’. This is estimated to reach Hawaii next spring moving on to hit the coasts of California and Alaska in two year’s time.

Robin des Bois also fears the amount of fishing equipment from boats and onshore caught up in the tsunami could cause problems for marine and wildlife in the region: “Over the next decades, we could see thousands of mammals and birds trapped by a type of ‘ghost fishing’.”


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