Three years from now a not insignificant amount of Japan's tsunami and earthquake debris may wash ashore on the beaches of California, Oregon and Washington. The floating trash will sail along currents off of Japan to the West coast and then head towards Hawaii before circling back towards Asia, scientists told the Associated Press.
Picture it this way: "If you put a major city through a trash grinder and sprinkle it on the water, that's what you're dealing with," said beachcomber John Anderson to the news outlet. Experts cited expect that, while only a small portion of the flotsam (like the car pictured above) will ever make it to shore, "items like lumber pieces, survey stakes and household items" may arrive on the West coast in two to three years. If there's any radiation at all that arrive with these items, apparently it will be very-low, unharmful doses.
And once those mostly plastic items (because they are less susceptible to the biodegrading process) arrive, undoubtedly there will be eager beachcombers who will scour the coast for value, interest, or just sheer oddity. Beachcombers, perhaps, like Donovan Hohn, a Harpers editor who in 2007 took an romantic eye to the notion of lost and then recovered floating debris for a cover story in that magazine and in a subsequent book, Moby-Duck.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.