Mitigating the Impact of Tsunami Debris on Coastlines

November 14, 2011, Workshop at the International Pacific Research Center,

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii


The March 11, 2011, tsunami in Japan generated a large amount of debris from devastated towns around the Fukushima region. Visible during the first weeks after the disaster as yellow mats of complex composition, the debris quickly drifted offshore, dispersed and became invisible to existing observing systems. Recently, predictions of ocean models have been confirmed by direct observations, with the edge of the debris field located end of September only 300 miles northwest from Midway Islands. At the workshop, we will discuss the necessity and feasibility of mitigation of the impact of tsunami debris on coastlines using available knowledge, technologies, and resources.


(agenda is still being finalized and this webpage will be updated)

Convener: Nikolai Maximenko

Invited panelists: Samuel Pooley, William Aila, Chris Woolaway, Rick Lumpkin, Yi Chao, Henrieta Dulaiova, Mary Crowley, Howard Wiig, Harry Fair, representatives from the NOAA Marine Debris Program and from the EPA Region 9.


Morning session 9:00-12:00. What do we know and what are we concerned about?

1.      How was the debris generated by the tsunami?

2.      Update from Japan and from agencies.

3.      Where is the debris going?

4.      How fast is the debris decaying and sinking?

5.      Is it dangerous for the US?
a. threat to navigation

b. threat to ecosystems
c. threat to the economy

d. threat to people's health
e. threat from radiation


Afternoon session 1:00-3:00. What can we do to mitigate the impact?

1. Do we have the technology, resources, and system in place for:

a. at sea interception?
b. coast line cleaning?

2. How do we recycle tsunami debris?

3. Do we have the plan?


Instructions for attendees, participating in the WebEx teleconference are available at


Instructions for remote presenters are being sent by email.


A recording of the workshop will be available online after the meeting.


Workshop venue and parking information. The workshop is held in the IPRC Conference Room #414 on the 4th floor of the Pacific Ocean and Technology Science (POST) building. Additional demonstrations will be set in POST #404.

Click here to see locations of the POST building and parking lots, accepting visitors (at $4 daily fee) or use interactive map at



Updated 11/13/11 3:12pm