09/25/2012 04:51 EDT | Updated 11/25/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. expects 1.5-million tonnes of tsunami debris

The B.C. government says it expects 1.5-million tonnes of debris will hit the province's shores following the 2011 Japanese tsunami — about half the amount of garbage generated by Metro Vancouver in 2010.

Still, Environment Minister Terry Lake said he's confident the province is on track in planning how to clean up the debris.

Lake said the federal-provincial Tsunami Debris Co-ordinating Committee is now focusing on how the government can help communities by possibly setting up local recycling stations, and figuring out what kind of specialized cleanup teams will be needed.

"We recognize that communities have concerns about how the possible arrival of tsunami debris may affect them," said Jonn Braman, regional director for tsunami debris, in a release Tuesday.

"We will be working with these communities to get ahead of the game and prepare for possible challenges such as the recycling, disposal and landfilling of tsunami debris," he said.

Experts disagree on when most debris will hit coast

That plan will be finished by the end of October, and should include a breakdown of how much of the cleanup costs will fall to federal, provincial and municipal governments. Japan has also agreed to bear some of the cleanup costs.

In March, the governments of B.C., Washington state, Oregon and California agreed to work together on a plan to deal with Japanese tsunami debris.

While some debris has begun to wash up on North American shores, experts disagree on when the glut of the garbage will arrive.

At a forum on tsunami debris response at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting in Victoria on Tuesday, one speaker said peak debris would hit in spring 2013, a second speaker predicted 2014.

Attendees were also told that if only 25 per cent of tsunami debris hits B.C., it would equal 74 metric tonnes per kilometre of coastline.