Japan Tsunami Debris: Under Control or on the Brink of Disaster?


Ebbesmeyer said he is greatly concerned with two other central issues connected to the debris. The first is that it's estimated that about half of the debris is Styrofoam, which is not recyclable. The second is that the items could be carrying invasive Japanese species, like scientists believe the washed up dock was carrying.

The concern is that invasive species could dominate existing food and resource supplies because they would have few predators in a new environment, thereby jeopardizing existing species.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and other West Coast political leaders have said that the tsunami debris could accumulate to the point of becoming a national emergency.

"If this was a one-time event all at once, we'd declare it an emergency and we'd be on the ground like that," Begich said during a hearing about the issue, according to the Associated Press.

Though Ebbesmeyer is concerned, he believes that disaster could be curbed by proactive and organized action.

"You'll wind up with beaches piled up with debris. I don't like to be too dramatic, but there will potentially be very large amounts, and then it will maybe get to the category of an emergency," Ebbesmeyer said. "It's possible that we may need heroic efforts to deal with the debris in some locations, but, if we're organized, we don't need to do that."

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