Nightly News | April 30, 2012
>>> we are back now with something weexpected to see american shores but not this early. the first wave of 5 million tons give or take from the japanese tsunami over a year ago. while most of the waste sank underse underseas, a lot of it did not, and it's catching fast currents to our coast.
>> along the coast of prince william sound , clear signs of trouble in the water.
>> god, what a sad situation.
>> a debris field is wash aashore on kayak island . chris palester has come for a closer look.
>> i don't think people realize this is environmental tragedy that dwafrs exon valdez in my opinion.
>> fragments of live from some 3,500 miles away . never before have locals seen their coastline so littered. scientists have begun to see more and more debris on the shores from japan. but nobody knows if it's from the tsunami.
>> for 13 months, scientists have been tracking an estimating 1.5 million tons of debris, a floating mass traffdriftding in the pacific, heading to the west coast . they will use c-130s for survey and train the volunteers on the ground on what to look for. the debris will arrive in waves, but the front edge may already be here.
>> any of the items that are high up in the water, that are catching a current, could be showing up.
>> and now, this arrested motorcycle, a harley, is believed to be the first piece of tsunami debris in can taw. the plates are from apajapan's hardest hit area. they shows the buoys, cans. and bottles regularly coming ashore.
>> there's a story behind each and every one. you wubder wr eer who was the last to touch it.
>> scientists say more is on the horizon.
>> it's a mess that will be here for generations.
>> wave after wave washing ashore in a region renowned for its beauty. miguel almaguer, nbc news, sitka, alaska.