State will suspend marine-debris reporting hotline

The Washington state hotline set up for reporting marine debris, 1-855-WACOAST, will be taken offline at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.

People will still be able to report hazardous marine debris—such as gas cans, cylinders and oil drums—24 hours a day to 1-800-OILS-911.

People also are urged to continue reporting nonhazardous marine debris that’s suspected to be from the tragic 2011 Japan tsunami via email to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at NOAA requests people include photographs and any identifying information, when possible, as well as the specific location of the debris.

Ecology department officials say that NOAA remains the best source of information for Japan tsunami marine debris, including modeling to predict arrival of this marine debris, frequently asked questions and other answers about tsunami debris.

The state hotline was set up by the state’s Marine Debris Task Force. The task force, which will remain intact next year, created the Washington State Marine Debris Response Plan and a process to respond to large or hazardous marine debris items as well as any sizeable increases in small, nonhazardous debris.

“We have not had a major marine debris incident in almost a year, and the overall amount of debris we saw on our beaches in 2013 also decreased,” Terry Egan, the task force’s lead, said in a news release. “The hotline hasn’t been getting calls, so it makes sense to suspend it. The state’s response plan was set up to conserve resources when it makes sense to do so, and that’s what we are doing here.”

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