Debris remains on Ka‘u shore


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is still unsure when a large container can be removed from a Ka‘u shoreline.

Deborah Ward, agency spokeswoman, said the 10-foot high and 20-foot wide yellow object, resting on state land, will have to be removed through private property.

Ward said DLNR is talking to the landowner about gaining access but no agreements have been made.

The container, potentially debris from the March 2011 Japan tsunami, was reported to DLNR on Oct. 4.

The agency at the time noted the difficulty in removing it from he remote shoreline and hasn’t been able to provide a timeline.

Ward said DLNR is considering cutting it up, but the means of removal have not been determined.

“We’re still keeping our options open,” she said. “And looking at different possibilities.”

The agency has budgeted $100,000 to remove the container. Ward said that may be much more than it i needs.

“We certainly hope it’s not going to cost that much,” she said. “That’s probably far and excess of what would that would cost depending on the method.”

An estimated 5 million tons of debris washed into the ocean from the tsunami. About 70 percent of that is believed to have sank near Japan.

The International Pacific Research Center has identified 14 confirmed or potential tsunami debris sightings in Hawaii. Most recently, it listed a refrigerator with barnacles and kanji characters found Nov. 10 on an Oahu beach.

Tsunami debris is brought to Hawaii by a “broad and slow current,” according to IPRC Senior Researcher Nikolai Maximenko, which brings them “one piece at a time.”

That “inflow” is expected to continue for the at least the next six months, Maximenko said in a written statement.

Most of the light objects, which stick out of the water and get pushed along by wind, have reached the mainland, the research center believes.

Other debris, moved by both currents and wind, has circulated south and is moving west toward Hawaii, Maximenko said.

A 20-foot fiberglass boat had also washed ashore near Kahana Bay on Oahu on Thursday. It’s unclear if it came from Japan. DLNR removed it Saturday.

Most of the debris is north and east of Hawaii, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA is anticipating that seasonal changes in winds and currents in the North Pacific Ocean will cause debris of mixed types to wash ashore the west coast of North America, with some also travelling west to Hawaii with ocean currents.

On Friday, Japan announced a $5 million gift to the United States for tsunami debris cleanup. Ward said it’s unclear how much of that Hawaii will receive or when.

Debris sightings can be reported to DLNR at 587-0400 or dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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