U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Maria Cantwell want the federal government to quickly look into the potential impacts of tsunami-generated debris.
Democrats Begich, of Alaska, and Cantwell, of Washington state, held a press conference today (Friday) in Seattle. They called for President Barack Obama to release National Science Foundation emergency research funds. That would help scientists hone in on what needs to be done to prepare for the debris.
Begich says Alaska already has a problem with trash piling up on outer-coast beaches.
“The impacts of debris coming ashore, from tsunami or otherwise, has enormous impact to our fishing industry, our recreational industry, or shipping and our commercial industry. So ensuring that we have the right resources, the right information, the right science, it’s critical for us to plan and be prepared for whatever level the tsunami debris moves and comes close to our shores,” Begich says.
It’s been a year since a devastating earthquake hit Japan, sending up to 100,000 tons of tsunami-generated debris into the Pacific Ocean.
Oyster buoys, damaged ships and other junk have already been found from Southeast Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island to the Aleutians.
Cantwell cited a derelict fishing boat spotted this (last) week near northern British Columbia as an example of what’s to come.
“This recent vessel appearing off the coast, I think gave everybody the understanding that this debris could be moving faster than people realized. SO we want the administration to work faster on a concrete plan that helps us have an adequate response to tsunami debris,” Cantwell says.
The senators voiced their concerns in a letter to Obama. They also criticized a proposed 25 percent cut in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s funding for shoreline cleanup.