Tsunami debris from the earthquake that struck Japan in March is heading straight for the West Coast, though the 20 million pounds of debris will not likely hit the U.S. for two to three years, scientists say.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii's International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) have estimated the debris will hit the Windward Islands in December, Hawaii in two years and the west coast mainland in three years. Using a computer model to document the ocean currents, researchers found the trajectory of debris from Japan, which amounts to millions of tons.
Russian ship STS Pallada spotted the debris in the Pacific Ocean on its way from Honolulu to Vladivostok in Russia.
Yesterday, i.e. on September 22, in position 31 [degrees] 42,21 N and 174 [degrees] 45,21 E, we picked up on board the Japanese fishing boat. Radioactivity level - normal, we've measured it with the Geiger counter, a member of Pallada told MSNBC. At the approaches to the mentioned position (maybe 10 - 15 minutes before) we also sighted a TV set, fridge and a couple of other home appliances.
The spot of the debris was some 2,000 miles from the original tsunami site, and included pieces of houses and various items from shoes to televisions to home appliances, observers reported.
The tsunami, which sent millions of tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean, was caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan.
The March 11 earthquake took the lives of 20,000 people and destroyed the Fukushima plant, which has ravaged the country.
Pinpointing the exact location of the debris allowed scientists to predict when and where it would make a landfall and how much there will be, along with ensuring the safety of small ships passing through the area. The International Pacific Research Center expects as much as 20 million tons of debris (or a little as 5 million) to hit the Windward Islands this December, followed by Hawaii in two years and the U.S. West Coast in three years.