Fukushima Debris "Island" The Size Of Texas Near US West Coast

Tyler Durden's picture

While it took Japan over two years to admit the Fukushima situation on the ground is "out of control", a development many had predicted for years, a just as important topic is what are the implications of this uncontrolled radioactive disaster on not only the local environment and society but also globally, particularly Japan's neighbor across the Pacific - the US.

To be sure, there has been much speculation, much of it unjustified, in the past two years debating when, how substantial and how acute any potential debris from Fukushima would be on the US. Which is why it was somewhat surprising to see the NOAA come out with its own modeling effort, which shows that not only "some buoyant items first reached the Pacific Northwest coast during winter 2011-2012" but to openly confirm that a debris field weighing over 1 million tons, and larger than Texas is now on the verge of hitting the American coastline, just west off the state of California.

Obviously, the NOAA in releasing such a stunner could well be hammered by the administration for "inciting panic" which is why it caveated its disclosure carefully:

Many variables affect where the debris will go and when. Items will sink, disperse, and break up along the way, and winds and ocean currents constantly change, making it very difficult to predict an exact date and location for the debris’ arrival on our shores.


The model gives NOAA an understanding of where debris from the tsunami may be located today, because it incorporates how winds and ocean currents since the event may have moved items through the Pacific Ocean. This model is a snapshot of where debris may be now, but it does not predict when debris will reach U.S. shores in the future. It's a "hindcast," rather than a "forecast." The model also takes into account the fact that winds can move different types of debris at different speeds. For example, wind may push an upright boat (large portion above water) faster than a piece of lumber (floating mostly at and below the surface).

Still despite this "indemnity" the NOAA does come stunningly close with an estimate of both the location and size of the debris field. One look at the map below shows clearly why, while the Fed may have the economy and markets grasped firmly in its central-planning fist, when it comes to the environment it may be time to panic:

Source: NOAA

Some of the disclosures surrounding the map:

  • Japan Ministry of the Environment estimates that 5 million tons of debris washed into the ocean.
  • They further estimated that 70% of that debris sank near the coast of Japan soon after the event.
  • Model Results: High windage items may have reached the Pacific Northwest coast as early as winter 2011-2012.
  • Majority of modeled particles are still dispersed north and east of the Hawaiian Archipelago.
  • NOAA expects widely scattered debris may show up intermittently along shorelines for a long period of time, over the next year, or longer.

In light of these "revelations" which come not from some tinfoil website but the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it becomes clear why there has been virtually zero mention of any of these debris traffic patterns on the mainstream media in recent history, or ever.

Appropriately enough, since the US media will not breach this topic with a radioactive 10 foot pole, one has to go to the Russian RT.com website to learn some more:

Over a million tons of Fukushima debris could be just 1,700 miles off the American coast, floating between Hawaii and California, according to research by a US government agency.



The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently updated its report on the movement of the Japanese debris, generated by the March 2011 tsunami, which killed 16,000 people and led to the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown.


Seventy percent of an estimated 5 million tons of debris sank near the coast of Japan, according to the Ministry of Environment. The rest presumably floated out into the Pacific.


While there are no accurate estimates as to where the post-tsunami junk has traveled so far, the NOAA has come up with a computer model of the debris movement, which gives an idea of where its highest concentration could be found.

Having released the radioactive genie from the bottle, the NOAA is now doing all it can to avoid the inevitable social response. RT has more:

The agency was forced to alleviate the concerns in an article saying there was “no solid mass of debris from Japan heading to the United States.”


“At this point, nearly three years after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, whatever debris remains floating is very spread out. It is spread out so much that you could fly a plane over the Pacific Ocean and not see any debris since it is spread over a huge area, and most of the debris is small, hard-to-see objects,” NOAA explains on its official webpage.


The agency has stressed its research is just computer simulation, adding that “observations of the area with satellites have not shown any debris.”



Scientists are particularly interested in the organisms that could be living on objects from Japan reaching the west coast.


"At first we were only thinking about objects like the floating docks, but now we’re finding that all kinds of Japanese organisms are growing on the debris," John Chapman of the Marine Science Center at Oregon State University told Fox News.


"We've found over 165 non-native species so far," he continued. "One type of insect, and almost all the others are marine organisms … we found the European blue mussel, which was introduced to Asia long ago, and then it grew on a lot of these things that are coming across the Pacific ... we’d never seen it here, and we don’t particularly want it here."

What is the worst-case scenario:

The worst-case scenario would be that the trash is housing invasive organisms that could disrupt the local environment’s current balance of life. Such was the case in Guam, where earlier this year it was announced that the US government intended to parachute dead mice laced with sedatives on to the island in order to deal with an invasive species of brown tree snake that was believed to have been brought to the American territory on a military ship over 60 years ago. In a little over half a century, a few snakes spawned what became an estimated 2 million animals, the likes of which ravaged the island’s native bird population and warranted government intervention.


Other concerns such as radiation, meanwhile, have been downplayed. On its website, the NOAA says, “Radiation experts agree that it is highly unlikely that any tsunami-generated marine debris will hold harmful levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear emergency.”


Independent groups like the 5 Gyres Institute, which tracks pollution at sea, have echoed the NOAA’s findings, saying that radiation readings have been “inconsequential.” Even the release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear reactor shouldn't be a grave concern, since scientists say it will be diluted to the point of being harmless by the time it reaches American shores in 2014.

Which is great news: since even the worst case scenario is inconsequential, we expect the broader media will promptly report on the NOAA's findings: after all, the general public surely has nothing to fear.

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Non Passaran's picture

The fuckers were too busy modelling catastrophic climate changes... No time for minor shit.

TeamDepends's picture

There are some organisms growing alright, such as the three eyed Burnsfish.

Manthong's picture

If only California had a few Mexicans with battered pick-up trucks…

auntiesocial's picture

Japan creates US jobs! is how this should be spun.

Ignatius's picture

"Debris Island" - Lots for sale!

All lots come with a water view.



Bro of the Sorrowful Figure's picture

do you think it's hard to get a work visa there? i've heard the job market in the pacific is pretty good. plus it's hard to get laid when you live in your parents basement.


@Ignatius           YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK !  I say let's declare it a new country, stabilize the debris with a fast dry spaceage resin to make it a solid mass. Then we round up Obonzo and his minions, the 535 cockroaches on the hill and few of the Free Shit Army to be exiled there til the end of their days. WE RESOLVE TO ONLY PROVIDE them with uber GMO frankenfood and water with EXTRA HELPING of flouride etc. Healthcare would consist of a box of bandaids and a rusty knife. TSA agents stationed at all points to feel them up daily...just in case they want to leave. 

SillySalesmanQuestion's picture

+1  for originality and depravity.

HardAssets's picture

Call out the carrier battle groups !  Launch the fighters & stealth bombers !  Send in the Marines and the Abrams tanks !  Launch the aerial attack drones !  Launch those birds in the SAC silos and under the ocean in the subs.

We have the most powerful military on the globe and spend as much as the next 10 nations combined. Lets put that expensive military to use defending us from this potential threat to the USA.  Its time to attack this radiation !

Nuke that damned thing !

NeedtoSecede's picture

You called it HardAss, time for us to Declare War on Debris!

InTheLandOfTheBlind's picture

from a low budget standpoint, the debris might be good cover for something like a sub.... just a thought

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

That's a whole lot of Fukushitsu headed for Fukufornia.

WW Z starts in Brangelinaland. Yihaaa!

Truthseeker2's picture

"As Fukushima Goes, So Goes Japan"



"Tokyo has the largest “greater metro” population in the world at about 34.3 million.  Tokyo has the largest GDP of all major cities in the world – larger than both New York City and London.  Tokyo is the economic/financial capital of the world’s 3rd largest national economy, as well as the primary economic engine of East Asia."



Confused's picture

I'm thinking this IS related to catastrophic climate change. But, I guess THAT is minor shit. 

Confused's picture

We don't have to rehash the retarded arguements here about radiation that have been going on with every Fuku article. 


My question to the article is this, if NOAA claims this is only a hindsight-cast, and has no predictive powers, why bother doing it at all? 

HardAssets's picture

"My question to the article is this, if NOAA claims this is only a hindsight-cast, and has no predictive powers, why bother doing it at all? "

Duh . . . . job security.  You've never had a govt job before, have you ?

Not Too Important's picture

"The fuckers were too busy modelling catastrophic climate changes..."

I don't know. I tend to think there were several rooms full of DoD Cray's dedicated to modelling the consequences of Fukushima 24/7 in the weeks following 3/11. Probably still are on a regular basis.

But that's just me.

markettime's picture

Hmmm...how big is Japan again? And if we compare it to Texas? One might need to ask exaclty how much stuff was piled on the shores of Japan anyway? Where are the greenies? I expected them all to be out swimming in the ocean cleaning this all up. Bunch of lazy bums. 

GetZeeGold's picture



Get your entry in.....you too could win a trip to the Island.

Pharming's picture

I'm thinking this "island" is rich in civilian targets.  We should allow the military to use it for bombing runs, strafing, etc... in preparation for the coming crack down on the masses in this country.

Disenchanted's picture

re: "but now we’re finding that all kinds of Japanese organisms are growing on the debris," 

Wonder what the mutations of those will look like...


Harvest that shit America! Bullish!

Confused's picture

I'm hoping, if this lands near LA, that the mutations resemble something like Godzilla. We would have nothing to worry about, hollywood has known how to handle that problem for quite some time now.......

HardAssets's picture

Damned incompetent TEPCO. They were supposed to send the cloud with the mutating GODZILLA forming gunk to the other coast . . . within range of D.C.

J Pancreas's picture

I hope this putrid mess lands smack dab in San Francisco bay. Let the enviro-trolls clean up the slop. Surely they can just raise taxes and buy some surveillance drones to monitor that blob.

Dr. Engali's picture

Can we contain it and make a new home for the bankers?

papaswamp's picture

Google can make a party island.

Milestones's picture

Alacatrash?            Milestones

Bearwagon's picture

Fear not - all is well! (Until it isn't, of course.)

gasmiinder's picture

How did this become a "Fukushima debris field" - other than as an eyeball magnet? It's a debris field from a tsunami that contains a tiny portion of debris from the Fukushima area, all of which was removed from the islands BEFORE any problems with the Fukushima reactor.

Hopefully the ZH 'community' may forgive my contamination of the thread with a rational analyisis.

Bearwagon's picture

Ever heard of "no quarter"? ;-)

toady's picture

Beat me to it. The counter argument is the Fukishima 'hot' water is only a day or two behind....

Not Too Important's picture

And almost three years of radioactive rain, full of uranium and plutonium.

Thoroughly rad pickled . . .

GMadScientist's picture

How dare you poop on Tyler's sensationalized pooping on California.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Follow the radiation trail behind it the distance will tell you the path the debris is coming from. You can kind of work out the rough numbers based on damage at Fukushima as compared to the size of the debris field. The rate it is moving you can work backwards to figure out how much of it is. Also tell you how much radiation actually is pissing out into the Pacific and rate that it is.

Fact of the matter is it is a lot of debris and most of it (whatever doesn't sink first) will wash up on the west coast eventually and some of that debris is most certainly from Fukushima. You can play the semantics game all you want but it is understood what the natural disaster was that created the debris field.  Also with the clean up required you also have the problem of moving species that are not native to the west coast into a new environment. You may want to forgive my contamination of the thread by pointing out contamination.

Being Free's picture

I applaud you gassy one.  All I had to read was this: "...according to research by a US government agency" to raise a red flag.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

To be fair to ZH here this is not their term for the debris field daily mail is also running the same thing and they most likely took the term from NOAA also. It is one thing to correct the messenger another to shoot them. And also to be fair I don't think you are doing any shooting here.

Iocosus's picture

This is ironic. Almost 70 years ago we nuked them, now fate is repaying us the favor. Karma.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Karma is a real bitch ain't it. I ain't religious or believe in god but I also know enough to know how little I do know and not self centered enough to think I know the answer or pretentious enough to clain I know what an unknown unknown is in this case, There is a difference between known unknowns and unknown unknowns. I use the one human tool I do have and it is called observation. It is amazing how our own self created systems works so hard to supress that basic gift that humans have. There is some sort of cause and effect to these things, whether it is the nature of system or something more divine I couldn't tell you with any certainty. Best answer would be a hypothesis that most likely can't be proved with today's knowledge and tools. One man's hypothesis is another man's religion.

Iocosus's picture

It's a law which transcends modern pragmatism and gently confirms a Divine, immutable force invisible to the physical senses, but whose actions and purposes remain visibly (to those who can "see") unchanged throughout recorded history.