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Washington Governor announces tsunami litter plan

The emergency management division of the state Military Department will coordinate the state effort to corral and clean up Japanese tsunami debris floating onto state beaches, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Monday.

The state is setting aside $100,000 from the state Department of Ecology litter cleanup account to help dispose of debris. But the state will seek reimbursement of cleanup costs from the federal government.

"While we expect debris to arrive slowly over the next several years, there's a chance a major storm could was up several thousand pounds of debris at once," the governor said in announcing the state response plan. "That will require far more financial resources than our state has available."

Since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, crippling a nuclear power plant complex, state health officials have been testing debris that may have come from Japan for radiation contamination, but have found none to date. Scientists say the tsunami debris was already washed out to sea before the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster struck.

State emergency responders will work with the state departments of Health, Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, Parks and Natural Resources in a bid to keep the beaches safe and clean of tsunami debris. .They will also engage the federal, local and tribal governments in the efforts, along with private, non-profit groups.

If citizens discover debris on beaches that may be hazardous or contain oil, they should call 1-800-OILS-911, which will trigger an Ecology response.

Citizens can also report debris to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at