The Washington State Marine Debris Task Force is inviting the public to three community meetings on the Pacific coast to answer questions and receive comments about the state plan for responding to marine debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.
The meetings are scheduled for:
• Nov. 7 in Port Angeles — 6 p.m., Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. 7th Street (corner of Peabody and 7th streets).
• Nov. 15 in Ocean Shores — 6:30 p.m., Ocean Shores Convention Center, 120 W. Chance A La Mer Ave.
• Dec. 5 in Long Beach — 3 p.m., Peninsula Church Center, 5000 “N” Place, Seaview.
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. The task force collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop the plan.
The plan is designed to address both high-impact types of debris, such a large dock or debris containing a hazardous substance such as oil, as well as a potential steady influx of small nonhazardous debris.
The task force will oversee and continually update the state marine debris response plan. The plan is available at http://marinedebris.wa.gov/docs/responseplan_marinedebris_09182012.pdf
Washington saw a spike in amounts of marine debris on its coastal beaches in June 2012 but the quantity washing ashore has since decreased significantly. However, fall and winter weather and ocean current patterns typically wash more marine debris ashore than summertime conditions. Predictions are that the debris will show up on Washington’s shores intermittently during the next several years.
Anyone encountering potentially hazardous debris should leave it alone and immediately call the state’s 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) number and press “1” to reach an operator who can dispatch responders.