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Tsunami Debris May Carry Plant, Animal Invaders

— Federal, state and local officials are bracing for the arrival of tsunami debris from Japan. They are especially concerned about what that debris is bringing to San Diego.

Aired 8/3/12 on KPBS News.

Federal, state and local officials are bracing for the arrival of tsunami debris from Japan. They are especially concerned about what that debris is bringing to San Diego.

Tsunami Debris near Santa Cruz Harbor
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Above: Tsunami Debris near Santa Cruz Harbor

Chunks of debris have already landed along the coast of Oregon, and the California coast is expected to start getting its share of the cross ocean debris by the end of the year.

Officials worry about the debris itself, but they also worry about invasive species or pests that hitched a ride on the junk. He says foreign plants and animals can cause big problems here.

"The debris can cause a lot of ecological turmoil," said Jim Eckman, director of the San Diego-based California Sea Grant office. "A lot of havoc, because these species will be in direct conflict with other species that are established here. And you can cause wholesale changes in the ecosystem because of the invaders"

Eckman met with state and federal officials in Portland, Ore. this week to discuss how to handle the threat in the future.

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