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Arrival of tsunami debris a 'wake-up call': B.C. mayor
The appearance of debris believed to be connected to the Japanese tsunami on the beaches near Tofino should be a "wake-up call," the mayor of the small B.C. town says.
Mayor Perry Schmunk told CTV News that Japanese goods have been washing ashore on the west coast of Vancouver Island for the past few weeks.
"There's definitely some stuff washing ashore that's not normal," he said.
"The first thing that showed up of significance was some Japanese lumber. We know that it's Japanese lumber because of the Japanese export stamps."
While it's difficult to prove the exact source of the waterborne trash, Schmunk believes it's connected to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
"Being on the beach is definitely a part of every Tofitian's day and ... the normal occurrence is virtually no garbage on the beach," he said.
On a recent shore walk, Schmunk says he saw as much trash in 10 minutes as he's seen in the last four years.
Some of the debris that he's finding seems to be deeply personal -- things like toothbrushes and baby socks.
"Some of these personal items might be of great importance to people who lost them in that event," he said.
"It definitely is eerie."
A massive debris field estimated at twice the size of Ontario in area is headed east from Japan.
Computer models performed at the University of Hawaii had predicted that the mass would still be about 483 kilometres northwest of the state's Midway Islands by September, but scientists confirmed in a website posting earlier this month that some objects could have already arrived in Washington state.
The early arrival of Japanese junk in Tofino has Schmunk worried.
"I think it's definitely a wake-up call, that in the worst-case scenario, we could have a significant issue on our hands," he said.
He believes Vancouver Island towns should begin working with the province to get a plan together just in case that worst-case scenario comes to pass, including the contingency of radioactive debris.
The B.C. government has said that it will begin working with national and municipal officials in January to prepare for the wave of trash set to hit the coast.
With files from The Canadian Press