70 pickup truck loads of debris removed form state beaches

SEATTLE -- State ecology teams covered 57 miles of beaches this week, and found more debris than they ever expected.

The Department of Ecology says they knew it was coming but they're still shocked at the sheer magnitude of debris washing up on the Washington coast.

Bottles, buoys and crates with Japanese markings are washing up on southwest Washington beaches at a record clip.

"There's never been a massive tsunami as what's happened in Japan and so this is totally new territory," said Curt Hart with the state Department of Ecology.

Since Monday, a Washington conservation corps crew of 18 people pulled 70 pick-up truck loads of debris from the beaches between Cape Disappointment and Moclips.

Among the discoveries -- a 55-gallon oil drum, timestamped bottles, and stifling amounts of Styrofoam and plastic totaling 140 cubic yards of waste.

Hart says some of the debris is likely from the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan, but it's hard to know for sure. Hart says what they do know is none of the debris has tested positive for invasive species.

He says the debris was harmless and taken to a landfill.

When asked if people should avoid the beach, Hart replied, not at all. "It's an uptick in ocean debris that is very likely connected to this amazing and horrible even that happened in Japan.

Meanwhile, with more tsunami debris expected in the coming years, the state is working on a plan with the federal government for clean up efforts. Already, $100,000 of state money has already been set aside.
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