Washington’s coastal beaches are seeing an increase in marine debris, much of it the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan and claimed nearly 16,000 lives.
To deal with the situation, the state has created a State Marine Debris Task Force, a group of state agencies led by the state Military Department’s Emergency Management Division. The task force has established a marine debris information listserv for Washington residents and coastal visitors.
State recreation agencies are involved because activities such as razor clam digging, surf fishing, hiking, camping and beach driving bring plenty of people to the coast.
The task force is urging people who encounter potentially hazardous marine debris along the coast to use its toll-free reporting and information line, 855-WACOAST (855-922-6278).
People can call to:
• Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and Washington Department of Ecology.
• Report large floating debris items that might pose a boating hazard.
• Get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous.
Hazardous materials to watch out for include spilled oil, drums and barrels, fuel tanks and gas cylinders, chemical totes and other containers with unknown fluids. Do not touch or attempt to move such items.
General marine debris, such as plastic bottles, Styrofoam and floats or buoys, are not considered hazardous. People are encouraged to remove and dispose of such debris.
NOAA encourages beachgoers and boaters to take photos of marine debris suspected to be from the Japanese tsunami, to note the location, and to email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get more info
To sign up for the marine debris listserv, go to ecy.wa.gov/maillist.html and choose “marine/tsunami debris.”
The state agencies also have established a marine debris information web portal at ecy.wa.gov/news/2012/itn01_debris.html.