Japan Tsunami Debris Creeps Up On BC Coast 2 Years Later

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Tsunami debris from Japan is slowly washing up on B.C.'s coastline, although Ucluelet's mayor says it's coming faster. (Canadian Press)
Tsunami debris from Japan is slowly washing up on B.C.'s coastline, although Ucluelet's mayor says it's coming faster. (Canadian Press)

As Japan marks the second grim anniversary of a devastating tsunami, British Columbia continues to grapple with the debris that is washing up on its coastlines from half a world away.

The tsunami debris may not be coming as fast as expected, but Ucluelet Mayor Bill Irving remains concerned that a vast volume of material left over from Japan's earthquake and tsunami could wash up in the coastal Vancouver Island community within the next three months, The Province reported.

Irving worries that debris is already filling up landfills, while trash is also building up in hard-to-reach beaches.

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake remains optimistic about the amount of debris that will reach B.C. He said lighter material such as styrofoam and plastic are likely to hit the coast while other garbage remains in a mass out in the ocean or sinks to the bottom, the newspaper reported.

The floating debris carries with it the risk of invasive species -- foreign plants and animals that could hurt B.C. ecosystems, CTV reported.

Invasive species could force out native animals like certain shellfish, which would hurt B.C.'s economy, Dolf DeJong of the Vancouver Aquarium told the network.

A dock washed up on the Oregon coast in December with 15 invasive species aboard and researchers are trying to determine what effect it will have on ecosystems there.

Meanwhile, Canadians are helping with cleanup efforts in Japan as the debris creeps ever closer to their western shore.

ESL teacher Sophie Delisle from Nanaimo, B.C. stayed in Japan after the tsunami because her students didn't want her to leave, reported CBC News. She arrived in the town of Ishinomaki before the tsunami hit and already saw water rising around people's ankles.

Christine Lavoie-Gagnon of Alma, Que. is also helping in Ishinomaki, leading many as 1,000 "weekend warriors" as part of a non-profit group called Nadia.

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