Teams of volunteers were heading to an uninhabited island in Prince William Sound near Anchorage yesterday to clean up debris washed out to sea by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year and sent by Pacific currents to Alaska.
Organisers warn that on Montague Island alone as much as 40 tons of flotsam will have to be removed, ranging from large buoys ripped from Japanese oyster fishing farms to small chips of polystyrene that are hazardous to birdlife.
Alaskan Senator Mark Begich has asked the federal government for $45m (£29m) to help. Last month, the US Coast Guard sunk an unmanned Japanese fishing vessel drifting off Alaska as it was a shipping hazard. Scientists have warned that shoes from Japan with human bones inside may also wash ashore. Japan's disaster cost 16,000 lives.