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Entries in Wreckage (2)

Thursday
Apr072011

Debris from Japan's Quake, Tsunami Heading to US West Coast

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- While the world's attention is focused on Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactors, there is increasing concern over a massive debris field that is floating toward the West Coast of the U.S.

After the tsunami and 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan in March, enormous chunks of entire towns were washed away and are now being found floating in open waters.

Members of the U.S. Navy's 7th fleet, near the coast of Japan, say they've never seen anything like it

Houses, cars, even tractor trailers bobbing in the ocean have become a threat to shipping traffic.

"It's very challenging to move through these to consider these boats run on propellers and that these fishing nets or other debris can be dangerous to the vessels that are actually trying to do the work," Ensign Vernon Dennis said.  "So getting through some of these obstacles doesn't make much sense if you are going to actually cause more debris by having your own vessel become stuck in one of these waterways."

Dennis said the largest thing they might find that would hinder traffic would be capsized vessels or ships.

"There was really no way to weather such a way, such an event...so there's ships out there -- that are capsized or upside down or resting on their sides... in many cases are blocking the channels that go into these ports," he said.

More than 200,000 buildings were washed out to sea by the tsunami and now a powerful current called the North Pacific Gyre is carrying everything towards the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California before looping back towards Hawaii and Asia.

"Across the wide Pacific, the drift rate is about five to 10 miles per day, so it's not a terribly strong current, but it's deliberate," said oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer, who has tracked the path of ocean debris from around the world.  "It never sleeps."

He says a year from now, things that easily float like boats, wood from houses and plastic children's toys will appear.  Two years out, fishing supplies and nets will come ashore and after three years, shoes, plastic furniture and even entire dining sets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

International Space Station Crew Misses Collision with Space Junk

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Potential orbital disaster was averted Tuesday, and the crew of the International Space Station didn't have to move an inch.

NASA had told the three astronauts aboard the ISS that they might have to duck into their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft because a six-inch piece of space junk was heading their way.

The debris was from the Chinese Feng Yun 1C satellite that was blown up in an anti-satellite test four years ago.  Since then, the wreckage has been descending slowly, posing a threat to other satellites, as well as the ISS, as it does so.

Usually, NASA catches sight of space junk well in advance to give the ISS crew enough time to move the spacecraft slightly to avoid any collision that might put a hole in the floating station.  However, that wasn't the case Tuesday, necessitating the warning to take shelter in the Soyuz.

Hours later, the red alert turned to green as flight controllers told commander Dmitri Kondratyev, flight engineer Paolo Nespoli and NASA flight engineer Catherine "Cady" Coleman that the probability of collision was nil and they could resume business as usual.

All this was good news for the crew because their replacements, who lifted off from Kazakhstan Monday, are due to dock with the ISS Wednesday evening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio