Washington State Marine Debris Task Force - August 27, 2012

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State receives $50,000 federal grant to address marine debris

OLYMPIA – Washington state will receive a $50,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address the increase in marine debris along the state’s coastal beaches resulting from the March 11, 2011, Japan tsunami.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said: “The state can’t address this situation alone.  I’m pleased the federal government has recognized its responsibility to help our state with debris clean-up, and am confident this grant will support efforts already underway to keep our beaches and shellfish safe.”

The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force applied for the NOAA grant in July. Gov. Gregoire established the task force – consisting of the state Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and several other state agencies – to coordinate state, federal and local activities to monitor and respond appropriately to marine debris along the Washington coast. 

The federal grant will be used to address marine debris along Washington’s 375 miles of coastal beaches that are owned and managed by eight different landowners. These are the Hoh Indian Tribe, Makah Nation, Quileute Indian Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, Shoalwater Bay Tribe, Olympic National Park, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

Of the $50,000:

Working in partnership with tribal, state and federal land owners, Ecology can use the federal money to pay for dispatching WCC crews to areas where the need for debris removal is greatest. Created in 1983 and administered by Ecology, the WCC provides opportunities and training for young adults who carry out on-the-ground environmental restoration and protection projects across the state.

In June 2012, three WCC crews removed 70 pickup loads of debris from 57 miles of coastal beaches between Moclips and Cape Disappointment.

In addition to funding WCC crews, Washington can use the grant to support efforts by volunteers and organized nonprofit groups that clean beaches by providing cleanup supplies and designated dumping stations along the coast.

On July 3, 2012, Gov. Gregoire announced the release of $500,000 from the governor’s emergency fund to address potential debris arriving on state beaches from the Japanese tsunami.

To address nonhazardous debris, Ecology set aside $100,000 to help local governments and non-profit groups clean up an increase of marine debris on state beaches. Thus far, $7,500 has been used to pay for dumpsters and waste collection bags.

For the most part, however, state agencies have been shouldering costs for responding to increases in marine debris within their existing budgets.

Items from many parts of the Pacific Rim, including buoys and consumer plastics, regularly wash up on Washington beaches. It is difficult to tell the origin of the debris without unique information such as an individual or company name, serial number or other identifying information.

Citizens can report potentially hazardous debris 24-hours a day to Washington’s marine debris reporting line at

1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278).

When large debris items arrive, the Washington state departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, Health, EMD, Natural Resources, Washington Parks and Recreation Commission and NOAA will work as needed with local, state, tribal and federal partners to better assess the origin of an item and take coordinated action to protect public health, safety and the environment.

More about marine debris, including potential tsunami debris:

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