Washington State Marine Debris Task Force - November 14, 2012

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Washington Marine Debris Task Force holding public meetings on tsunami debris response plan Nov. 15, 2012, in Ocean Shores and Dec. 5, 2012, in Long Beach

OLYMPIA ā€“ The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force is holding community meetings in Ocean Shores and Long Beach to answer questions and gather feedback about the state plan for responding to marine debris from the tragic March 11, 2011, Japan tsunami that may cross the Pacific Ocean and reach Washington beaches.

The meetings will be held:

The response plan is designed to address high-impact types of debris, such as a large dock or debris containing hazardous materials like oil, as well as a potential steady influx of small nonhazardous debris. The task force collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop the plan.

According to NOAA, a portion of the 1.5 million tons of tsunami debris that dispersed in the Pacific Ocean has been arriving on U.S. and Canadian shores, including Washington. Debris is predicted to show up on state beaches intermittently during the next several years.

The plan recognizes incidents involving high-impact debris will be unique and difficult to predict. It is designed to give local, tribal, state and federal responders flexibility in rapidly assessing a debris item, identifying which agencies will respond and what resources will be necessary to protect public health, safety and the environment.

For example, the Washington Department of Ecology has existing systems set up 24/7 to respond to cases in which hazardous materials like oil are present, and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has a well-established aquatic invasive species response program.

Gov. Chris Gregoire established the task force to coordinate state, federal and local activities to monitor and respond appropriately to marine debris along the Washington coast. The task force will oversee and continually update the state marine debris response plan.

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Media contacts:

Curt Hart, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6990; cell, 360-480-7908 (curt.hart@ecy.wa.gov)
Linda Kent, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6239; cell, 360-791-9830 (linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov)

For more information:

Washington Marine Debris web portal (http://marinedebris.wa.gov)

NOAA (http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris)

Joint states tsunami debris information website (http://disasterdebris.wordpress.com)

Washington Emergency Management Division (http://www.emd.wa.gov/index.shtml)

Washington Department of Health (www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/EmergencyPreparednessandResponse/FukushimaUpdate/TsunamiDebrisFAQ.aspx)

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (www.wdfw.wa.gov/tsunami)

Washington Department of Ecology (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/spills.html)