Thursday, April 17, 2014

Washington Establishes Tsunami Debris Line:

South Bend, Washington – Washington State Department of Ecology today announced a new toll-free reporting and information line for citizens who spot possible tsunami debris on Washington State beaches.  

Beachgoers are encouraged to call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) to report.  In addition, beachgoers are encouraged to remove and dispose of small debris items such as polystyrene (Styrofoam), plastic bottles, or other small articles.  If an item appears to have sentimental value to those who owned it, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) request people move the item to a safe place and email the information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

People who call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) can:

  • Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and Washington Department of Ecology by pressing “1”.
  • Report large floating debris items that might pose a boating or navigation hazard by pressing “2”.
  • Get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous.

Oregon Tsunami Debris Line Established

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Thursday that people will be able to call 211 to report tsunami debris. Beginning Friday, the hotline will be staffed during business hours and will take recorded messages at other times.

The governor said General Mike Caldwell will be responsible for coordinating the response and cleanup efforts among state agencies. Caldwell is interim director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Caldwell says it's important to the promptly pick up tsunami debris large and small to keep beaches clean and prevent the introduction of invasive species.  Kitzhaber says Oregon will work with other Pacific Coast states to request money from the federal government

Network of Debris Waste Bins on Oregon Coast
 
A network of 32 drop-off sites on the Oregon coast are now ready to receive beach debris washing ashore from the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. The drop-off sites are free and are a combination of state parks and independent recycling and transfer stations located in every county  Visitors and residents can call 211 (or 1-800-SAFENET) to report tsunami debris they see on the beach. 

Schedules vary for the drop-off locations, and visitors are encouraged to visit http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/tsunami_debris.shtml for a digital map with complete detailed locations and hours, and a list of common questions and answers about tsunami debris. 

The drop-off sites will accept debris in official beach cleanup bags produced by SOLVE. Beach clean-up bags are available at state park campgrounds (locations listed below and online at http://oregonstateparks.org).

 

  • Much of the small debris is rigid foam and plastic. Don't break up the foam. Put it in the bag, and tie it shut. 
  • Residents and visitors who see a piece of debris too large to fit into a bag should drag it above high tide if possible, then report the date and location. 
  • Beach visitors who find tires, appliances or other large objects should not attempt to bring these items to the drop-off sites on their own; report them instead. 
  • Debris with living organisms, should be reported (with a photo if possible, location and date) then moved above high tide or removed from the beach, bagged and delivered to a drop-off site. Never move organisms to another body of water (even at home). This will reduce the threat of invasive species. 

All tsunami debris reports may be submitted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (with the location, date and a photo if possible), or by calling 211 in Oregon coastal counties. 211 is operated by a nonprofit organization under contract with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (1-800-SAFENET is an alternate number for the same service). The 211 number can also be used to report hazardous materials on the beach--fuel drums, propane tanks, gas cans--and hazards to navigation seen offshore (such as abandoned boats and shipping containers). 211 operators will connect callers with the correct agency to complete the report. In an emergency, however, always call 911. 

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department expresses deep gratitude to the Oregon Marine Debris Team (SOLVE, Oregon Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Sea Reach, Washed Ashore, Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition), 211info, the Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association, and all the coast waste haulers for their immediate and helpful response to the tsunami debris problem. Oregon's public beaches are in good hands because of Oregonians like these, and the visitors and residents who will help remove debris from state beaches. 

State Parks:
(All state parks will accept bagged debris during normal operating hours, seven days a week. )
Fort Stevens, 100 Peter Iredale Road, Hammond, OR 97121 
Nehalem Bay, 9500 Sandpiper Lane, Nehalem, OR 97131

Other Drop-off sites:
Clatsop Transfer Station, 1790 Williamsport Rd.,, Astoria, OR 
Manzanita Transfer Station, 34995 Necarney Rd, Manzanita, OR 97130 
Tillamook Transfer Station, 1315 Ekloff Rd, Tillamook, OR 97141

 

Background on Tsunami Debris

On March 11, 2011, a devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. The disaster claimed nearly 16,000 lives, injured 6,000, and destroyed or damaged countless buildings. As a result of the disaster, NOAA expects a portion of the debris that the tsunami washed into the ocean to reach U.S. and Canadian shores over the next several years.

NOAA is leading efforts with federal, state, and local partners to collect data, assess the debris, and reduce possible impacts to our natural resources and coastal communities.

There is no reason to avoid beaches. Radiation experts believe it is highly unlikely any debris is radioactive, and the debris is not in a mass. Beachgoers may notice a gradual increase in debris near-shore or on the coast, adding to the marine debris that washes up every day. The public should continue to visit and enjoy our coasts—and help keep them clean

The public should continue to visit and enjoy our oceans and coasts, and help keep them clean. Most marine debris is not harmful, but NOAA does encourage beachgoers to remain aware of their surroundings and handle any debris with safety in mind. If you don't know what it is, don't touch it. If it appears hazardous, please contact appropriate authorities.  Authorities also encourage boaters to stay alert, especially at night, since large debris can be a hazard to navigation.

Radiation experts agree that it is highly unlikely that any tsunami generated marine debris will hold harmful levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear emergency.  Some debris in West Coast states has already been tested, and no radioactive contamination was found. At least one item known to be from the Fukushima region, a small fishing boat found in the Pacific Ocean, also tested normal. 

 

 

If you see small debris, like bottles, aluminum, or Styrofoam, remove the debris from the beach and recycle as much as possible. Larger, hazardous, or unmanageable debris could be a safety risk and should be left alone and reported to local authorities.

Marine debris items or significant accumulations potentially related to the tsunami can be reported to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with as much information as possible (including its location, the date and time you found it, photos and other relevant descriptions). It is important to remember that not all debris found on U.S. shorelines is from Japan or the tsunami, so please use your discretion when reporting items.

In most cases, it is extremely difficult to determine whether debris came from the tsunami. Items from Asia, such as buoys or litter, wash up on the U.S. Pacific coast all the time, so it's very difficult to tell where the debris came from came from without unique identifying information. Significant changes in type and amount on a shoreline are an indicator that debris is from the tsunami.

Not every item found on our shorelines is from the Japan tsunami. Marine debris is an every-day problem, especially around the Pacific.

 

Resources

  • OR Debris Hotline - 211 (if problems use 1-800-SAFENET)
  • WA Debris Hotline:  1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) and press 1
  • Big Debris in Oregon:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Hazardous Materials:  Nat'l Response Ctr. - 1800-424-8802 & 1800-OILS-911
  • US Coast Guard 510-437-3701
  • USCG 24-Hour Command Center, 206-217-6001
  • Wildlife Ctr. of the N. Coast - 503-338-0331
  • To request a shoreline monitoring guide: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Report effects of possessions to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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