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Media begins coverage of the 3-11 tsunami debris en route to the U.S.

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The public’s attention is finally being drawn to the topic of the materials which ended in the ocean as a result of the tsunami.

photo of the russian ship Pallada

Photo of the Pallada docked during a visit to Seattle, WA. The Pallada's sailing leg from Hawaii to Russia was crucial in the initial documentation of the 3-11 tsunami debris field in the Pacific ocean disaster which hit Japan earlier this year - referred to by some as 3-11 tsunami debris. Which some minor coverage occurred in the month following the disaster it didn't grab attention in the same way that the current round of media coverage is generating. Major kudos to University of Hawaii researcher Nikolai A Maximenko who approached the Pallada for assistance and the Russian Captain who agreed to document the 3-11 tsunami debris as she sailed west from Hawaii.

The current cycle of coverage reached possibly its widest coverage through a single story in a piece that aired on October 24, 2011 on NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams. That story covered the

information that was gathered by one of what we believe to be only two sources of direct observation of the 3-11 tsunami debris field.

Frustrated by a lack of a wider response to the potential threats that the 3-11 tsunami debris materials may generate, a handful of marine debris experts in Hawaii and Washington, DC (a group which includes myself) have come together to bring together resources of opportunity to begin the process of scoping out the scale of the problem.

One such opportunity presented itself when a Russian tall ship, the Pallada, was en route from San Francisco, California on her way home to Russia, and stopped over in Hawaii. While docked in HI, University of Hawaii researcher Nikolai A Maximenko, who thankfully peaks Russian, approached the Captain of the Pallada and asked if his crew could take photos and report back on the debris they might encounter as they sail west through the areas the ocean circulation models say should contain debris from the 3-11 tsunami debris.

Having found not just debris in general, but a small boat with registration on the stern tying it back to the site of the tsunami’s landfall in Japan there is little doubt that the debris was from the 3-11 disaster event. Closer to Hawaii than the University of Hawaii or NOAA models had predicted, the information from the vessel of opportunity should alert governments, industry, environmentalists and scientists that shockingly little is known about the 3-11 debris field.

The author is a scientist by training and the owner of W.H. Nuckols Consulting, an environmental policy firm.
A bio for Mr. Nuckols is located at www.WilliamHNuckols.com

You can follow Will Nuckols on Twitter at @enviroxpert

Written by Will Nuckols

November 1, 2011 at 9:07 am