Although no one knows exactly when or where it will land, officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Victoria, BC know it's coming and they are expecting approximately 1.5 million tons of it.
If you are asking yourself what exactly is the "it" officials are talking about, they are talking about the massive amount of debris swept into the Pacific ocean following the tsunami that devastated parts of Japan in 2011.
The British Columbia government has been following the progress of the floating debris using satellite images. Officials are using those images and predicted ocean currents to estimate the arrival of much of the debris. Terry Lake, Environment Minister for British Columbia, told CTV: “The majority of tsunami debris that floats or is just below the surface is affected by ocean currents and that will arrive with winter storms perhaps this year and certainly by 2013."
NASA image of tsunami debris in Pacific Ocean in April 2012.
Officials have been making plans on how to handle the massive amount of debris once it does make landfall along the Pacific coastline. Part of their plan includes trying to reassure residents that the government has a solid plan in place to address the complicated nature of such a massive clean up. Jonn Braman, regional director for tsunami debris, issued a news release on Tuesday which said: "We recognize that communities have concerns about how the possible arrival of tsunami debris may affect them. 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."
On Tuesday, Lake also issued a statement in which he said "Tsunami debris presents a unique challenge that will require a collaborative effort - no one is going to face this alone. We do not know the extent of the debris that may still come, but we are continuing to monitor the situation and have taken appropriate steps to be well prepared and organized in the event that something significant occurs."
IPRC model tracking the tsunami debris across the Pacific
The Vancouver Aquarium has already recruited about 2,000 volunteers to help with the clean up once the debris does arrive.
You can read the complete clean up plans at the British Columbia Government website:
Phase One / Phase Two
Some debris has already washed ashore, including the bizarre discovery of a motorcycle in a shipping container in Haida Gwaii on the northern coast of B.C. Debris has also been spotted in other parts of the world including a ghost ship adrift off the coast of Alaska and a massive dock which landed on a beach in Oregon according to the Vancouver Sun.
The Newsroom says the tsunami washed an estimated five million tons of debris into the sea, 70 percent of which sank off the coast of Japan. The remaining 1.5 million tons has been carried eastward by the currents in the Pacific Ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states: "Computer models run by NOAA and University of Hawaii researchers show some debris could pass near or wash ashore in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument ) as early as this winter, approach the West Coast of the United States and Canada in 2013, and circle back to the main Hawaiian Islands in 2014 through 2016."