Local Tsunami Debris Watch is Underway

Nothing big has arrived yet, but that could change

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An effort to document the arrival of local beach trash has morphed into a Tsunami debris watch. Angie Crouch reports for the NBC4 News at 11pm on Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Environmentalists already wanted to conduct an unbiased study of what washes up on Los Angeles County shores. Now, with Tsunami debris on the way, the study is taking on new meaning.

    The study got a lot more attention after a massive concrete and steel dock washed ashore in Oregon this week. It had made the journey all the way from Japan, after being violently dislodged by the Japanese Tsunami.

    It was just one piece of an estimated 25 million tons of debris the Tsunami washed out into the Pacific Ocean. It's likely a lot of it is still out there.

    Santa Monica's "Heal the Bay" environmental group is joining forces with federal oceanographers to conduct a two year study to find out just how much trash accumulates on our beaches, and how much of it might have come due to the Tsunami.

    “The wind is also driving them," noted Heal the Bay's Sarah Sikich. "We’re using this as a case study of how currents travel along the west coast.”

    The study will focus on two beaches: Carbon Beach in Malibu and Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes. They were chosen because they have few visitors to alter what washes up.

    Environmentalists plan to document, but not clean, debris from those beaches for two years.

     “We picked beaches that aren't routinely cleaned to answer the question, how is debris building up over time,” explains Sikich.

    Now, that process could  be influenced by the Japanese Tsunami, and add a new dimension to the final outcome.