SEATTLE — Kayakers surveying Washington state's most remote beaches for debris from last year's Japanese tsunami say they believe they have found part of a house, along with parts of a washing machine, laundry hamper and child's toilet bowl.
Three kayakers with the Ikkatsu Project wrote in a report this week that they found the remnants on June 12 as they worked their way up a beach near the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, about 120 miles west of Seattle.
They also found a lumber pile mixed in with driftwood and seaweed. The lumber's dimensions were metric, and some of it was stamped with a serial number they traced to a mill in Osaka — the Diawa Pallet Housou Co., the kayakers wrote.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who is on the expedition's advisory board, said it's too soon to say whether the debris was from a Japanese home.
"It's like an archaeological dig," he said Tuesday. "It's a bunch of things that could be construed as a house."
If so, it might be the first case of a Japanese home floating 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
A 66-foot dock ripped loose by the big waves landed on an Oregon beach this month, and Washington officials believe a 20-foot boat that washed ashore at Cape Disappointment State Park in Pacific County came from Japan.
The arrival of debris from the tsunami has worried officials on the West Coast. They say it will be expensive to clean and could carry invasive species — a serious threat to the fishing industry. On Monday, Gov. Chris Gregoire called for federal help dealing with the debris.
Kayakers Ken Campbell, Steve Weileman and Jason Goldstein are not scientists, but they described the debris as "almost certainly a portion of a house that was taken out to sea by the Japanese tsunami."
They said they didn't have the resources to search through the entire debris pile.
The Ikkatsu team is working to document the amount of tsunami debris that's already landed to use as a baseline for measuring how much arrives this fall and winter, when the debris is expected to arrive in greater concentrations, Ebbesmeyer said.