Boat washes ashore, likely from Japan tsunami

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The tsunami in Japan might be responsible for a whole new wave of issues on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Washington state officials think a Japanese boat that washed ashore Friday with Japanese writing on it is likely debris from the tsunami last year, according to news reports.

A marine-band radio, several life jackets and a battery made a long sea journey with a Japanese fishing boat that washed ashore Friday at Cape Disappointment State Park, an 1,882-acre camping park on the Long Beach Peninsula in Pacific County where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, according to the Seattle Times.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Monday a state plan to address tsunami debris that reaches the state's coast from Japan, but stressed that federal help is needed, according to the Associated Press.

"We don't have the resources at the state level to do what we're going to have to do here," she said at a press conference.

Gregoire noted that the Department of Ecology has been approved to use $100,000 from its litter cleanup account for tsunami debris removal. However, a "steady dribble" of tsunami debris is expected during the next few years that will require more money, although she said the cost of the cleanup is unknown.

The boat, estimated to be more than 20 feet long and bearing Japanese characters, was tested Friday for radiation and found to be safe, the Seattle Times reported.

As Japanese debris washes ashore, marine scientists are concerned about the arrival of invasive species that might threaten the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. Those concerns were heightened with the arrival of a floating dock earlier this month in Newport, Ore., that contained some non-native species.

The boat, if indeed from the tsunami, is the largest piece of debris to hit Washington's coast from last year's tsunami in Japan, the newspaper reported.

"It's fiberglass construction, with foam inserts for increased flotation. So we are not overly surprised the vessel made it here," said Sgt. Carl Klein of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. "But we are surprised at the amount of equipment that came with it. The life jackets appeared almost brand new.”

Washington's shores also are getting hit with increased amounts of foam insulation, plastic bottles and other items that are likely to have made a trans-Pacific journey in the wake of the March 2011 tsunami.

State officials have what appears to be a boat-registration number, which they hope can be used to trace the vessel back to Japan.

Click here for the full AP report and click here for a report from the Seattle Times.


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