- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A floating island of debris broader than Texas has been crossing the Pacific Ocean toward the U.S. west coast since a devastating tsunami hit Japan in March 2011, killing nearly 16,000 people.

More than 1.5 million tons of wreckage — including everything from boats and building rubble to appliances and consumer products — could wash up on shores in Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. West Coast and Canada over the next few years, an updated report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) revealed.

NOAA said the floating island is currently in the Pacific Ocean north of the main Hawaiian Islands and east of Midway Atoll.

“NOAA is collecting observations from aircraft, vessels, and high-resolution satellites in an attempt to track where the debris may go as it crosses the ocean. We are working with partners that regularly travel the Pacific Ocean, including the U.S. Coast Guard, commercial shipping vessels, and the fishing industry to keep watch for debris,” the report said.

Also worrying scientists are the non-native organisms that may be carried over by the floating debris.

“At first we were only thinking about objects like the floating docks, but now we’re finding that all kinds of Japanese organisms are growing on the debris,” John Chapman of the Marine Science Center at Oregon State University told FoxNews.com. “We’ve found over 165 non-native species so far… In the debris we found the Northeastern sea star … as well as a type of brown algae that’s used to make miso soup. We’d never seen it here before.”

SEE ALSO: Japanese leader Shinzo Abe wants Fukushima nuke plant completely scrapped

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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