Disaster debris hotlines and fast grants

by MCM
Monday, February 11, 2013

Two years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, debris set adrift by the destructive waves continues to wash up on beaches along the west coast of the United States and Canada.

Beachcombers can report tsunami-related or hazardous debris by emailing DisasterDebris@noaa.gov or calling 1-855-WACOAST in Washington or 211 in Oregon. As of Dec. 13, NOAA had received 1,432 reports of debris, 17 of which were confirmed as tsunami-related.

In December, another large dock was reported floating off the coast of Washington by fishermen and located a day later by helicopter search. The dock was beached in a remote area of the Washington coast, on the Olympic Peninsula between La Push and the mouth of the Hoh River, which is only accessible by hiking more than three kilometers on primitive trails during low tides. It has been confirmed to be the fourth dock from Japan; it carried about 30 different species of marine life indigenous to Japan — far fewer than the dock that made landfall in Oregon last June.

Funding for cleanup of tsunami debris is being provided in part by a $5 million grant from the Japanese government, distributed through NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. Research and travel grants have also been made available through the National Science Foundation’s RAPID funding program, which is designed to provide timely funding for scientific research projects in the wake of disasters such as the 2011 New Zealand earthquakes and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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