There are a lot of rumors and misinformation circulating about the debris generated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.  We have pulled together the top frequently asked questions and had them answered by leading experts in radiation, marine debris and hazardous materials.

  • Japan Tsunami and Marine Debris Concept of Operations (PDF | 747KB)
    This Concept of Operations (ConOps) addresses the necessary preparedness, response and recovery actions that Cal EMA must consider to support a coordinated local, state and federal effort regarding the JTMD situation.  It provides information and guidance to the various different levels of government established under the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) for this unique circumstance.   The overall intent of this ConOps is to ensure effective and timely support to local government as JTMD reaches the California coast.
  • FAQ’s About Tsunami Debris (PDF | 475KB)
    This is a two-page document with frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) and answers suitable for anyone wants credible information. It was developed by the California Emergency Management Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, US EPA Region 9 and NOAA’s Tsunami Debris Program. (Source: Kelly Huston/Deborah Hoffman)
  • How to Identify Japanese Vessels, Vessel Owners, and Vessel Registration (Japanese Vessel Registration PDF | Owner Identification PDF)
    This helpful information has been provided by the Japanese consulate in Seattle to assist in the identification of vessels from Japan. The documents explain the vessel registration system and how to find and read the associated numbers and lettering.
  • Guidelines for Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Contamination Assessment (.PDF)
    This document provides technical support to Local, State and Federal agencies tasked with identifying potentially contaminated marine debris generated by the Japan tsunami of March 2011. It will be difficult to differentiate between marine debris from the tsunami and other debris that commonly affects the West Coast shoreline. When responding to reports of unusual or suspect marine debris off shore or on the shoreline, any responder or response organization should follow standard hazard assessment procedures.
  • Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Volunteer Debris Removal Guidelines (.PDF)
    When conducting any beach cleanup, all responding agencies and organizations should follow basic safety precautions, outlined in this document, under the assumption that the debris to be removed may potentially include items containing hazardous materials.Volunteers who are performing beach cleanups, and the organizations or agencies that are managing those volunteers, should always keep safety as a foremost concern in their minds. A few basic guidelines can help avoid any unintentional injury or distress.
  • How to Identify Japanese Gas Cylinder Contents (PDF | 828KB)
    This document serves to assist in the identification of substances contained within Japanese gas cylinders. The document provides information describing color codes and identifying characters found on container surfaces. (Source: Mr. Atsushi Fujita, Japan NAVSUP)
  • What To Do If You See Debris? Guidelines by Debris Type (PDF | 147KB)
    This one-page, color document provides suggested guidance for the general public on what to do when they see or find certain types of debris.  It is intended as very general guidelines and NOAA recommends checking with officials in your area to get more specific guidance as each jurisdiction may have additional helpful tips.