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5 states receive $250,000 from NOAA for Japanese tsunami recovery

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Several states received good news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Monday. Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii all will receive up to $50,000 to help with marine debris removal caused from the Japanese tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated parts of Japan killing an estimated 19,000 people and leaving more than 340,000 people still homeless 12 months later.

The Japanese government estimated 5 million tons of debris was swept into the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that most of this debris has sunk into the depths of the ocean leaving around 1.5 million tons floating throughout the Pacific Ocean.

The majority of the debris is scattered, according to satellite imagery, GIS maps, and other modeling systems. Some experts fear that a slow disaster will unfold on the west coast of the United States over time due to the massive amounts of debris in the Pacific Ocean. Debris has already reached the U.S. and Canadian west coasts and is believed to continue for several years.

NOAA is asking the public to report significant debris sightings both on and off shore to local authorities and to disasterdebris@noaa.gov. NOAA is also asking the public to report any piece of debris that contains or is covered with marine life or growth in order to determine whether it is native or not. The Oregon Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks are already dealing with debris containing invasive sea creatures.

As the tsunami debris continues to head toward the United States, funds from NOAA will help pay for the retrieval, cleanup, and disposal of debris that washes up on the shores of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. The amount of debris that is estimated to wash ashore could easily cost more than $50,000 for each of these states however, the funds from NOAA will help ease the burden.

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