ECOSLO to host beach clean-up March 9
Over 5 million tons of debris washed ashore in the wake of the 2011 Japan Tsunami. The Japanese Government estimates that about 30 percent of that 5 million, or 1.5 million tons of debris, was buoyant enough to wash away from the coast of Japan and enter the Pacific Ocean currents. The debris is already arriving in Alaska and Washington and larger quantities will wash ashore in Oregon and California in the coming months.
Original projections from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) estimated that debris would arrive along the West Coast by March 2013. However, debris has arrived much earlier than expected. In recent months, tsunami debris has been found at locations along the West Coast, including items as small as a soccer ball belonging to a 16-year old (the ball was eventually returned), to a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The largest of the items have been two Japanese harbor docks that washed onto the Oregon coast in June 2012 and the shores of Olympic National Park in Washington in December 2012.
Radioactive contamination is a common concern associated with the Japan Tsunami debris. Officials have explained that the tsunami debris washed out to sea before the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant released radioactive water. It is considered highly unlikely that any of the debris that washes up in California will be radioactive, and this has been confirmed by on-the-ground testing. No elevated levels of radioactivity have been found in any of the items which have come from the affected area. Nevertheless, this is an issue about which authorities remain vigilant. With help from CalEMA, there are qualified emergency responders ready to respond if suspicious debris is found.
In order to prepare for the oncoming debris, state and federal organizations are establishing programs to organize volunteers to clean up beaches and gather data. As the leader of California’s largest volunteer beach clean-up programs, the Coastal Commission has mobilized multiple nonprofits in California to organize volunteers on the local level. Those volunteers will be responsible for cleaning up debris and gathering critical information to determine when and where debris from the tsunami is hitting California’s shores. ECOSLO, the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, one of the local organizations, and will be hosting the first of four 2013 clean ups in March. If you would like to join the effort, meet the group on Saturday March 9th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Montaña De Oro, Sandspit parking lot. In order to further reduce waste during these cleanups, ECOSLO requests that volunteers bring reusable gloves, reusable bucket or bag, and carpool to this family friendly event. For more information about this event visit www.ecoslo.org, call (805)544-1777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.