News / Vancouver

Debris from 2011 tsunami still washing up on B.C. shores

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has removed 19,650 kilograms of debris from B.C. beaches since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup volunteers scour a beach in British Columbia for debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Contributed/Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup volunteers scour a beach in British Columbia for debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Volunteers in British Columbia are still finding debris from 2011’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

March 11 marks the five-year anniversary of the disaster, which killed more than 18,000 people and generated waves that reached 40 metres high as the earthquake-triggered tsunami swept inland.

Debris from the event started washing up on British Columbia shores in 2012 and volunteers at the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup continue to scour the province’s coastline.

To date, volunteers have cleaned more than 34 kilometres of remote shorelines and removed 19,650 kilograms of debris as part of the cleanup’s tsunami debris removal project.

“It’s a big undertaking, and the work isn’t done,” said Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, in a statement. “When we’re out collecting these items on remote B.C. beaches, we’re reminded of the scale of the human tragedy in Japan.”

Le Souef said most of the debris is recycled to avoid the landfill, while attempts are made to reunite personal items with their original owners, though most items are untraceable.

The most common debris are fishing buoys, construction lumber, property markers, shoes and plastics.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a national initiative started by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada.

It took responsibility for a specific tsunami debris cleanup project after receiving funding from the provincial government and contributions from the Government of Japan.