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Increase in Tsunami Debris Prompts State Response

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People are urged to report larger items to park rangers when on state beaches or to the 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) line. For example, on Feb. 2, a refrigerator with Asian writing and marine growth attached washed ashore at Ocean City State Park in Grays Harbor County. The non-hazardous item was removed from the beach and State Parks is working with state Department of Fish and Wildlife to investigate whether the item harbors any invasive species. Photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/sets/72157632640429533/.

Ecology has received numerous reports of nonhazardous debris including Styrofoam, plastic bottles and light bulbs as well as six reports of potentially hazardous items including pressured cylinders and containers with oil or unknown materials.

In a typical year, Ecology responds to six to 10 reports of hazardous items on coastal beaches. Across the state, the department handles about 3,800 reports of oil spills and hazardous material releases and conducts about 1,200 field responses annually.

Guidelines for reporting large or hazardous marine debris to the 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) line include:

  • · Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and Ecology by pressing “1.” Such materials include drums, fuel tanks and containers, gas cans, gas cylinders, chemical storage totes and spilled oil.
  • · 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 by pressing “3” and leaving a message.

With options “1” and “2,” callers will be connected to a person who can dispatch responders and get additional information.

NOAA predicts tsunami debris will show up on state shores during the next several years. However, it is unknown where and what types of debris might arrive. A NOAA map picture with reported and confirmed tsunami debris sightings in Washington as of Jan. 10, 2013, is at http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/images/erma_washington.jpg.

NOAA encourages beachgoers and boaters to take photos of marine debris suspected to be from the Japan tsunami. Photos may help identify the location when sent by e-mail to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov along with any additional information you may have. If it seems an item may have sentimental value to the owner, NOAA asks people to move the item to a safe place before sending information.

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