Tsunami costs mounting; Gregoire releases $500,000 for cleanup

Jul 3, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire is releasing $500,000 from her emergency fund to address costs associated with potential debris washing up on the state's beaches from the Japanese tsunami.

Gregoire said Tuesday that the money will be released to the state's Military Department Emergency Management Division, which is coordinating the state's response to the debris.

The state Department of Ecology has already allocated $100,000 from its litter cleanup account for tsunami debris removal, but Gregoire says there has been a steady stream of debris showing up on beaches and costs to remove it are climbing.

The state is also asking people to call 1-855-922-6278 if they find debris on beaches they think may be hazardous or contain oil.

Crews last week picked up tons

Washington Conservation Corps crews dispatched to clean up marine debris on southwest Washington coastal beaches last week collected enough garbage to fill the beds of 70 pickup trucks.

The state Ecology Department sent out three six-member crews out because of the increasing amount of debris showing up on the coast. The crews covered 57 miles of beaches from Cape Disappointment north to Moclips. Ecology says the haul was mostly plastic foam products but the workers also found refrigerators, large crates and containers, buoys, ropes and household garbage.

The department says it's difficult to say how much of the debris is related to the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

Crew supervisor Shawn Zaniewski says crews did find some large items with Japanese symbols, as well as items with Chinese and other Asian writing.