Washington State Marine Debris Task Force - August 31, 2012

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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 shorelines.

Washington also is announcing its marine debris web portal, http://marinedebris.wa.gov/. The state website contains information about:

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:

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 line.

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 pressing “1.”

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 www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/incidents/ocean_shores/3-08%20Fumicates%20sign2.pdf.

More about marine debris, including potential tsunami debris

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