West Coast Tsunami Debris Watch Update 2013

April 29th, 2013

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NOAA – 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 an 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. – NOAA

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NOAAGeneral Guidance

Be safe: Use common sense and follow general safety guidelines. If you don’t know what an item is, don’t touch it. If it appears hazardous, contact appropriate authorities.

Some West Coast states have established toll-free phone lines for reporting all categories of marine debris, including potentially hazardous debris:

Oregon: Call 2-1-1
Washington: Call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278)

Marine debris items or significant accumulations potentially related to the tsunami can also be reported to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov with as much information as possible (including its location, the date and time you found it, photos, and any relevant descriptions). It is important to remember that not all debris found on U.S. shorelines is from Japan, so please use your discretion when reporting items. – NOAA

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NOAA – Marine debris is an every-day problem for much of the Pacific-area, so it is difficult to tell in most cases whether an item was lost during the tsunami. However, significant changes in the types and quantities of debris at a shoreline over time may be a sign that tsunami debris is washing ashore.

To observe that shift, volunteers will collect information on the types and amounts of debris on our shorelines for two years, as part of a NOAA Marine Debris Program shoreline monitoring project. Debris surveyors can then compare any changes or shifts from the baseline.

The initiative, called the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MD-MAP), has a great network of dedicated partners from NGOs, academia, and government conducting the monitoring using the standardized NOAA Marine Debris Shoreline Survey Field Guide protocol and datasheets. The survey sites are located throughout the five impacted states. – NOAA

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LINKS:
Tsunami Debris: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/images/gnome_graphic.jpg
Debris Monitoring: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/monitoring.html ; http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/

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