About a year ago, debris from the devastation of the tsunami that hit after the Great East Japan Earthquake was still washing up on the Pacific coast of the United States. There was a whole portion of a dock that washed up in Washington state, a fishing boat, and host of other debris – so much so that there was a fear that a large island of debris was heading for the U.S. West Coast. That fear was eventually proved wrong, and this year, with the reports of debris at the bare minimum, west coast states are set to shut down a hotline that was set up for this very purpose.
“We have not had a major marine debris incident in almost a year, and the overall amount of debris we saw on our beaches in 2013 also decreased,” said Terry Egan, who leads the state’s Marine Debris Task Force. “The hotline hasn’t been getting calls, so it makes sense to suspend it,” Egan said. “The calls have become fewer and fewer. It seems just to make good fiscal sense — good use of tax dollars — to suspend the line (1-855-WACOAST) because of general lack of use,” he concluded. The announcement comes as Oregon is also considering disbanding its marine debris task force next year if no significant events happen over the winter.
Egan says that ordinary litter continues to wash ashore every day. A separate state hotline to report oil and hazardous items continues unaffected and Washington beachcombers can still report hazardous marine debris — such as gas cans, cylinders and oil drums — 24 hours a day to 1-800-OILS-911. Also, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will continue to take tsunami debris sightings by email at email@example.com. Egan says the most recent confirmed piece of tsunami debris to wash ashore on the Washington coast was a Japanese fishing boat found on a Makah Reservation beach in May. NOAA’s Pacific Northwest marine debris coordinator said the most recent tsunami-related flotsam to arrive in Oregon was a gas cylinder picked up at Depoe Bay, also in May 2013. “The tag on the cylinder afforded enough information for the Government of Japan to confirm that the cylinder originated in Japan, and was washed out to sea by the March 11, 2011 tsunami,” said NOAA’s Nir Barnea.
[via Statesman Journal]