Washington State Marine Debris Task Force - August 31, 2012
State updates marine debris website, encourages beachgoers to report debris items
OLYMPIA – As people head for Washington’s coastal beaches for the long
Labor Day weekend, the Washington State Marine Debris Task Force is
reminding beachgoers to call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) to report
potentially dangerous or tsunami-related marine debris on our state
Washington also is announcing its marine debris web portal,
http://marinedebris.wa.gov/. The state
website contains information about:
- How to report non-hazardous marine debris.
- Identifying and reporting potentially hazardous debris items.
- Tips on keeping our beaches clean and healthy.
- Where to get more information about debris modeling and monitoring
efforts – including debris likely resulting from the March 11, 2011, tsunami
that devastated Japan.
- Updates on efforts by the state’s Marine Debris Task Force.
Gov. Chris 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.
In Washington, people who call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) can:
- Report oil and hazardous items to the National Response Center and
Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) by pressing “1.”
- Report large floating debris items that might pose a boating or
navigation hazard by pressing “2.”
- Get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous.
Oregon has a separate marine debris reporting line, 2-1-1. The two lines are
different, and anyone in Washington calling 2-1-1 to report marine debris on our
state beaches will not reach Washington’s toll-free 1-855-WACOAST reporting
Washington saw a spike in amounts of marine debris in June. Since July, the
amount of debris washing ashore the state’s coastal beaches has decreased,
partly due to seasonal weather patterns. Increases in debris are expected later
in fall and winter when weather patterns shift.
Still, beachgoers this Labor Day holiday are encouraged to remove and dispose
of small debris items such as Styrofoam, plastic bottles and floats, and pieces
of metal and treated wood. The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has
placed trash bins in the cities of Ocean Shores and Ocean Park as well as
Grayland State Park where the public can dispose of marine debris.
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.
However, if an item appears to have sentimental value to those who owned it,
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requests people move
the item to a safe place, take pictures, note the location and email the
information to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.
Marine debris that appears to be oiled or contain hazardous materials such as
fuel containers and tanks, chemical storage totes, gas cylinders and drums
should be immediately reported by calling1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) and
Play it safe. If something looks suspicious, don’t touch it. These include
any 10-inch aluminum insecticide canisters frequently found in high tide zones
along the coast. These canisters can contain small amounts of toxic phosphine
gas. Read more at
More about marine debris, including potential tsunami debris
- Washington’s 375 miles of coastal beaches are owned and managed by eight
different landowners: 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
- There have been sporadic increases in reported debris on our beaches
including plastic bottles and floats, Styrofoam, pieces of lumber, crates
and other small moveable objects.
- Most small debris items are not considered hazardous. Whenever possible,
people are encouraged to pick these items up and properly dispose of them.
- NOAA remains the best source for information about Japan tsunami marine
debris including modeling, protocols to follow for handling marine debris
and frequently asked questions. Go to
- NOAA is actively collecting information about tsunami debris and asks
the public to report debris sightings to
include the time, date, location and, if possible, photos in such reports.
- State Health Department radiation experts don’t expect to find any
debris with elevated radiation levels. More information at
- According to state Fish and Wildlife, finding marine debris with
invasive species will be rare and most likely limited to large marine
structures such as boats, docks, navigation aids and breakwaters that spent
a long time in their native waters. Such objects will likely require heavy
equipment to remove. People may find organisms attached to smaller debris
items – sometimes in heavy accumulations – but these will be common open
ocean species such as pelagic gooseneck barnacles. Go to
- Don’t burn driftwood. Salt residue from ocean waters stays in pores of
the wood, even after it’s dry. According to Ecology, when burned the
chlorine reacts with the wood to form toxic compounds called dioxins that
are released in the smoke. Such compounds can affect the immune system. If a
beach fire is permitted, bring seasoned, non-driftwood, and enjoy.
- State Parks asks people who want to clean debris from beaches to focus
on small, non-natural items such as Styrofoam and plastic. Leave wood and
kelp because these are an important part of the beach ecosystem. Stripping
the beach of its driftwood depletes needed coastal habitat.
- According to state law, it is illegal to burn garbage, and construction
and demolition debris. More at
- Linda Kent, Washington Ecology media relations, 360-407-6239, cell,
- Curt Hart, Washington Ecology media relations, 360-407-6990; cell,
For more information:
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.