Northwest lawmakers say tsunami debris grants not enough

Originally published on July 18, 2012 8:25 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lawmakers from the Northwest say a new federal grant to help clean up tsunami debris is just not enough to get the job done. They’re lobbying for millions of dollars to get rid of items washing ashore from last year’s tsunami in Japan.

Lawmakers are calling the debris a slow moving environmental disaster and its already starting to wash up on the region’s shores. The cleanup is expected to take years. Members of Congress are asking the federal government for more than forty million dollars to assist local officials in an unprecedented cleanup effort. But this week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration allocated just two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to the five affected states; a maximum of fifty thousand dollars each. Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley says he doubts that will be adequate.

“I think it’s going to be a situation where a lot of reevaluation will be necessary. We’re just in the front end of the wave of debris coming across the ocean. I would suspect the funds needed for cleanup will be much larger.”

States may be able to access the federal cash by the end of this month. Lawmakers expect the states to burn through the money quickly, so they’re already lobbying NOAA for more money to clean up the debris.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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