Marcy Merrill, a photographer who lives at North Cove in Pacific County, has watched for months as a favorite stretch of beach has become a junkyard for anyone who doesn’t want to dispose of their trash legally, and she’s recorded it with her camera.
Washaway Beach in Pacific County is already famous for dramatic examples of beach erosion resulting in whole homes falling into the surf. Merrill says it appears that local residents are sometimes stacking trash along the edge of the embankment and letting erosion and the tides carry their garbage away.
She has contacted various local and state authorities, but the complex problem has so far gone unchecked. Chuck Matthews, a regional solid waste specialist with the state Department of Ecology, has looked at the problem and is trying to coordinate a solution with various agencies, but says the difficulty of catching illegal dumpers, the significant resources required to address a cleanup and jurisdictional issues complicate things considerably.
Matthews has worked on the problem of tsunami debris from Japan washing up on Washington beaches. To watch the tireless work of citizen volunteers who turned out to remove tsunami debris from the beaches and then to “drive around the corner and see that (trash on the beach), it’s frustrating,” he said. “I’m not going to predict an outcome, but the problem is worth looking into.”
Once stuff lands on the beach in a seashore conservation zone, as this stretch of beach is, Washington State Parks has a significant role in the issue, Matthews said.
Merrill thinks she could find volunteers to clean things up, but she’s hoping a government agency will take care of the dumping costs and that government agencies will take on enforcement responsibilities so the problem gets stopped.
“One of our big problems is the number of government agencies that could possibly be involved,” Merrill said. “There are so many different government agencies, I’m worried they’re going trip over themselves and nothing will be accomplished.”
She said so far, the most tangible help she’s been offered is access to free garbage bags
“As you can see, this is way beyond garbage sacks,” she said.
To see dozens of Marcy Merrill’s photos of garbage dumped illegally at Washaway Beach go to http://tinyurl.com/csa2hyy
— Doug Barker