Japanese Tsunami Debris: Will It Trash Our Beaches?

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How many volunteers will this cleanup take?
There are so many alarming side effects to the Japanese nuclear leak -- tainted rainwater, polluted air samples, and let's not forget the possibility of radiation in your milk.

But while we are so preoccupied with these immediate hazards, we have yet to think about the long-term problems: trashed beaches.

That's right: Scientists are saying that the wind and ocean currents are already pushing loads of crap from Japan where an 8.9 earthquake hit earlier this month, followed by a devastating tsunami where some 10,000 people were killed.

KTVU reports today that anyone living on the West Coast can expect the floating pollution to make its way here within the next year, or maybe three.

How quickly tsunami-related junk will wash ashore depends largely on the material, its buoyancy, and other factors. Perhaps only a small portion of the garbage will land on the beaches.

But even then, it, too could be radioactive, scientists say.

We have so many questions. So we called UC Santa Cruz ocean experts to talk to us about what we might expect, and what people can do to help. We will update you when we get more information.

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