It's been exactly three years since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea.


It’s been almost 3 years since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water were released from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Fish there have been contaminated and some Japanese fisheries are still closed due to ongoing leaks. That’s made many people nervous about eating fish caught on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

Washington and other Pacific Coast states set up tsunami debris reporting hotlines in the wake of the 2011 disaster in Japan.

Hotline calls and emails to report suspected Japanese tsunami debris have gone way down this year. But West Coast states are still keeping their guard up in case another wave of flotsam from the 2011 disaster washes up on our shores.


The earthquake and tsunami threat to the Northwest from the offshore Cascadia fault was in the news in multiple ways Thursday. Canadian researchers have reconstructed a prehistoric record of great earthquakes on that shared fault. It reconfirms that we're due for another Big One. Coincidentally in Oregon, tsunami preparedness is getting a renewed look.

Here on the western coast of the U.S., we have a special connection to Japan. The ocean between us keeps bringing remnants from the massive tsunami there. It left more than 16,000 people dead. The debris is expensive to remove and can carry invasive species with it.

Judson Randall

Oregon authorities have contacted the Japanese Consulate in Portland to find out whether a piece of presumed tsunami debris that washed up at Oceanside on Friday is culturally significant.

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan served as a wake up call for coastal residents and visitors on our shores. But two years later, it is hard to measure how much that disaster has changed tsunami readiness on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Althea Rizzo is the geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. She says she's certain tsunami awareness has increased.

SEATTLE - Building codes cover fire prevention, energy efficiency, and seismic safety among other things. Now a group of civil engineers from around the West is developing additions to the code to cover the threat of a tsunami.

Kent Yu of Degenkolb Engineers in Portland is one of the members of an American Society of Civil Engineers subcommittee drafting standards for "tsunami loads and effects."

"I think it is going to help make our communities more resilient."

Boat Washed Ashore Near Newport Possible Tsunami Debris

Feb 6, 2013
Oregon Office of Emergency Management

A boat that washed ashore on Gleneden Beach near Newport on the Central Oregon Coast appears to be debris from the March 2011 Japan tsunami.