Earlier this week, we learned that the state will receive a $50,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address the increase in marine debris along Washington’s coast. Much of this increase may be attributed to the tragic Japan tsunami that took place March 11, 2011.
The grant funding covers the following:
- $19,000 will be used by the Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) to clean coastal beaches of debris.
- $15,000 will help purchase supplies such as gloves and trash bags.
- $9,000 will pay for trash bin disposal, and hauling and disposing of large debris items.
- $7,000 will be used to buy equipment such as trash bins.
The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force applied for the NOAA grant in July. The task force is led by the state Military Department’s Emergency Management Division with participation from numerous state and federal agencies, including DNR.
In addition to the $50,00 grant, the Gov. Gregoire released $500,000 from the governor’s emergency fund, and Ecology has provided $100,000 from the state’s litter control account. Aside from the funding sources, state agencies and local communities are mostly absorbing response and cleanup costs within their existing budgets.
So far, the only confirmed debris from the tsunami is a 20-foot fiberglass boat that washed ashore on June 15 at Cape Disappointment State Park. However, coastal communities, tribes, and long-time beach cleanup volunteers are reporting that—as of late—beaches have experienced sporadic increases in marine debris. They’re reporting a lot of yellow Styrofoam, plastic bottles, small appliances, pieces of carbon fiber, mannequin parts, wood, and floats.
For more details about the grant, read the Washington Department of Ecology’s new release from August 27.
Stay current with the marine debris situation, sign up for the marine debris listserv.
Learn what to do if you find marine debris at the tsunami/marine debris web portal.
If you’re out on the coast and you find debris, call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278)
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