Tsunami waves generated by the magnitude-9 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 cross the Pacific toward the United States.
University of Hawaii senior researcher and ocean current expert Nikolai Maximenko says 1 to 5 percent of the 1 million to 2 million tons of debris still in the ocean may reach Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, as well as British Columbia in Canada.
Some debris appears to have arrived already, such as a half-dozen large buoys suspected to be from Japanese oyster farms found in Alaska late last year.
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