Japan Tsunami Debris: Millions Of Tons Headed For West Coast

April 6, 2012 by staff 

Japan Tsunami Debris: Millions Of Tons Headed For West Coast, The U.S. Coast Guard plans to use explosives to sink a derelict Japanese ship dislodged by last year’s massive tsunami.

The shrimping vessel, which has no lights or communications systems, was floating about 195 miles south of Sitka in the Gulf of Alaska on Thursday morning, traveling about 1 mile per hour.

The ship holds more than 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel and authorities are concerned it could interfere with the course of other vessels as it drifts through shipping lanes. A Coast Guard cutter was headed out to the ship on Thursday with plans to use high explosive rounds to sink the vessel.

If left to drift, the ship would ground somewhere, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Charley Hengen.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency studied the problem and decided it is safer to sink the ship and let the fuel evaporate in the open water.

The Coast Guard is warning other ships to avoid the area.

The vessel, named Ryou-Un Maru, is believed to be 150 to 200 feet long. It has been adrift from Hokkaido, Japan, since it was launched by the tsunami caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that struck Japan last year. About 5 million tons of debris were swept into the ocean by the tsunami.

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