Alaska Receives Donation for Debris Removal

June 19, 2013

The state has received a $19,000 donation for marine debris cleanup on Alaska shores.

The Department of Environmental Conservation said the gift is from the Hokkaido Development Engineering Center and members of the International Association of Cold Region Development Studies.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig said in a release that the donation is a symbol of the “deep friendship” between the U.S. and Japan. He said it will be put to good use cleaning Alaska’s coastline.

Debris from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan has been washing up on the West Coast of North America. It’s difficult to distinguish tsunami debris from routine marine debris, though some beach-cleaning groups have reported higher-than-normal volumes of debris and different types of debris than usual in the last two years. It’s not clear how much debris from the tsunami is still floating and what might end up, where.

Previously, the government of Japan provided $5 million to the U.S. to help clean debris. The five West Coast states – Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii – have been assured $250,000 each from that, with the rest to be distributed as needed. Alaska has submitted a proposal for another $750,000.

Alaska’s Legislature also OK’d $1 million for debris removal efforts.

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