By: The Oregon State Parks Team

You’re beachcombing and find something out of the ordinary — something you suspect could be tsunami debris. Unusual debris reports are coming in from Oregon’s coastal communities and north along Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.

Live at the coast? Just visiting? You can help keep the beach clean by removing human-made debris that wash up on shore. Everyone is talking about debris from the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, and you can see some of those objects here (derelict dock info), but the truth is debris lands on our shores all year long. No matter where it came from, you have a chance to protect Oregon’s beaches.

What can you do to help? Depends on what you find:

Litter and other typical marine debris.
Examples: Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, buoys, Styrofoam.

If practical, we encourage you to remove small debris and recycle as much of it as possible. You can get an official beach cleanup bag from any coastal state park office. Don’t break up Styrofoam if you can help it, and tie your bag shut when full. If you can’t remove the debris from the beach by hand, please move it far enough away from the water so it doesn’t wash back out at high tide. If you see a significant amount of debris, debris that has living organisms on it, or debris that is too large to move by hand, report it by email with the date, location and photos to beach.debris@state.or.us. If the debris has organisms growing on it, throw it away in a garbage can or landfill, or move it above the high tide line and report it.

Derelict vessel or other large debris item.
Examples: Adrift fishing boat, shipping containers.

Call 911 in an emergency. If the debris is a hazard to navigation, call 211 (or 1-800-SAFENET) and you will be connected with the US Coast Guard. Do not attempt to move or remove vessels.

Mementos or possessions.
Examples: Items with unique identifiers, names, or markings.

If an item can 1) be traced back to an individual or group and 2) has personal or monetary value, call 211 (1-800-SAFENET) to report it or send an email at beach.debris@state.or.us so we can make appropriate arrangements for return of items to Japan.

Potential hazardous materials.

Examples: Oil or chemical drums, gas cans, propane tanks.

Call 211 (1-800-SAFENET) and you will be connected to the US Coast Guard’s National Response Center. Report as much information as possible. Do not touch the item or attempt to move it.

 

There are dozens of disposal stations on the coast ready to accept your bagged tsunami debris. If you see debris larger than what you can put in a bag–tires, refrigerators, and so on–don’t bring it to the disposal station. Report its location by calling 211 (1-800-SAFENET).

Want more detail? Read on for Frequently Asked Questions related to the tsunami debris problem in general, and special questions on boating, and ecological effects.

Visit the Tsunami Debris FAQ for additional detailed information on what you should do if you find something and a map of debris drop-offs.