- - Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Tsunami debris heads for N. America coast

HONOLULU — Tsunamis generated by the earthquake in Japan last March dragged 3 million to 4 million tons of debris into the ocean after tearing up Japanese harbors and homes.

Scientists believe ocean currents are carrying some of the lumber, refrigerators, fishing boats and other objects across the Pacific toward the United States.

Of the 1 million to 2 million tons of debris still in the ocean, 1 percent to 5 percent may reach Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, said University of Hawaii senior researcher and ocean current expert Nikolai Maximenko.

That’s only a portion of the 20 million to 25 million tons of debris the tsunamis generated altogether, including what was left on land.

Some debris appears to have already arrived in the U.S., such as a half-dozen large buoys found in Alaska late last year suspected to be from Japanese oyster farms.

Nicholas Mallos, conservation biologist and marine debris specialist for the Ocean Conservancy, said many of the objects are expected to be from Japan’s fishing industry. Fishing gear could harm wildlife, such as endangered Hawaiian monk seals, if it washes up on coral reefs or beaches.

“The major question is how much of that material has sank since last year, and how much of that remains afloat or still in the water column,” Mr. Mallos said.


King under house arrest for reckless driving

RIVERSIDE — Rodney King has been sentenced to 20 days of house arrest and fined $500 for misdemeanor reckless driving in Southern California.

Mr. King is the black motorist whose beating by white Los Angeles police officers was videotaped in 1991. Four officers were acquitted of charges in state court a year later, leading to rioting in Los Angeles.

The 46-year-old Mr. King was arrested in Moreno Valley seven months ago on suspicion of drunken driving.

But Riverside County prosecutors say his blood-alcohol reading was 0.06 percent, which is below the 0.08 legal threshold. He also had a trace of marijuana in his system.

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