Preparing for the arrival of Japanese Tsunami Debris on our shorelines

As coastal Washington anticipates the arrival of debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, islanders are left with questions and concerns like what’s predicted to arrive, when it will arrive, how to identify hazardous material, what to do with culturally significant items, where to take collected debris, and how to help.

Three lectures led by oceanographer Dr. Jan Newton and Stewardship Network volunteers will be held in the islands on Friday, June 1 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts,  Saturday, June 2, 4-5:30 p.m. at the Orcas Senior Center and Sunday, June 3, 4-5:30 p.m. at the San Juan Grange.

The lecture will include information about ocean currents, storm patterns, and the potential arrival of tsunami marine debris to the San Juans.  Most current models predict that the major impact will be to the outer coast, and the San Juans are not likely to be heavily affected. Once materials arrive to our shoreline, models indicate that they will accumulate in the southern areas of San Juan, Lopez and Shaw.

Over the last several months islanders on San Juan and Orcas have collected material with Japanese writing. While confirming their origin as tsunami debris is uncertain and indicates the need for preparation. Friends of the San Juans is recruiting volunteers for a Tsunami Debris Beach Collection Project. To volunteer call 378-2319.

San Juan County transfer stations will continue to take beach debris free of charge. Call 911 if you find hazardous material. Anyone who finds suspected tsunami debris is asked to contact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at

This lecture is sponsored free of charge by the Stewardship Network of the San Juans and is part 2 of the “At the Water's Edge Lecture Series.”

For more info, call 378-2319 or visit

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates