More than 15 months after a powerful-earthquake triggered a tsunami in Japan, some of the estimated 1.5 million tons of debris formed from the wreckage of towns and villages has-started to wash up on US beaches. Among the items: a soccer ball in Alaska, a fishing boat in Washington State and a large dock in Oregon.
Cleaning up beaches is usually done for free by volunteer groups, but this kind of global garbage will require different work.
"We have a fabulous network of Oregonians that care for their coast and will emerge to help remove debris," says Charlie Plybon of the Surfrider Foundation. "But we need money for the eventual disposal of that debris."
The Oregon Parks Department agreed to pay a contractor $84,000 to dismantle and dispose of the 66-foot long steel and concrete dock. That was more than half the state's beach cleaning budget for two years.
Washington State has set aside $100,000 for tsunami debris pickup knowing it is-not nearly enough. Now it is looking for help from the other Washington. "The cost of the debris cleanup is going to be unknown at this point," says Gov. Christine Gregoire. "The primary financial responsibility for the cleanup lies with the federal government."
So far, federal officials have told the states they-must-spearhead removal. An official with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, testified in front of a US Senate panel saying a federal funding plan has not been made and in most cases the local governments will have to pay.
That was not sitting well with West Coast lawmakers. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced a bill that would provide $45 million in federal money for debris cleanup. "This is an emergency," says Begich. "We would see no different if there was a tornado, a hurricane or earthquake. We would be right there assisting."
Read more: FOX News
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