Oregon’s Tsunami Debris Team has launched a series of meetings along the Oregon Coast to inform residents of what is coming their way this Winter – lots of Japanese tsunami debris. They say it could come in the form of small ships or boats, docks, drum barrels, tanks, fire extinguishers, prescription drugs still in the bottles, even family heirlooms. And along with all that could also be coming more invasive species, depending on how big the floating object is.
During today’s Town Hall meeting in Lincoln City, State Emergency Management General Michael Caldwell said there will be a noticeable increase in tsunami debris this Winter and that it may come in dribbles and drabs or in big clumps. “There’s no telling,” he said.
General Caldwell said he is asking the state legislature to provide funds for coastal clean ups but added that costs could be reduced by using local jail and prison inmates for labor. He also added that the state is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make federal aid available to Oregon and other western coastal states to help in protecting their shores. “So far,” he said, “only Brookings has been given that favor.”
General Caldwell said spotting the debris off our shores will be difficult. He predicted some debris will get through and become stranded on our beaches. He said other debris will be spotted in time so they can be taken out into deep water and sunk.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Regional Project manager Caren Braby said while it’s true that some invasive species managed to get off the Japanese dock and onto the sands at Agate Beach, few if any could be expected to survive because beaches don’t provide food for them. “However, you never know when some set of critters might get lucky. You just never know. And we won’t know for some time whether some survived to disrupt our local ocean and river habitats.”
As for the clean-up this winter and spring, SOLV’s Brianna Goodwin told the gathering that Winter is always a hard season to get volunteers, due to the coast’s powerful storms and general inclement weather. She said SOLV and other clean up organizing groups will be relying heavily on coastal residents to pitch it and work hard to keep Oregon’s beaches as clean as possible. Goodwin said that information on scheduled clean up weekends can be found on their website at SOLV.org
A state parks worker told the crowd that much of the debris could be harmless, but that it only takes one exception to get somebody really hurt, or even killed. He said fire extinguishers that made the long journey across the Pacific might be highly explosive so leave them alone – don’t touch them and call 2-1-1 or 800-SAFENET. Fifty-five gallon drum barrels are also inherently dangerous, especially if there’s something in them. Again, call 2-1-1 or 800-SAFENET.
Wednesday, the debris team travels to:
9:00 a.m. Coos County, Owen Building, 201 N. Adams, Coquille, Ore.
1:00 p.m. Douglas County, Reedsport City Hall, 451 Winchester Hall, Reedsport, Ore.
5:30 p.m. Lane County, Siuslaw Valley Fire Hall, 2625 U.S. 101, Florence, Ore.
For additional information on tsunami debris, its effects on the Oregon Coast and how to reduce its danger and inconvenience, go to their website: