Senators Introduce Tsunami Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s two U.S. senators are pushing legislation to help pay for tsunami debris cleanup on the West Coast.

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, introduced the Tsunami Debris Cleanup Reimbursement Act on Thursday. If passed, it would give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the authority to reimburse states for the cleanup of debris that washed ashore after the 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.

Last year, Japan announced that it would give the United States five million dollars to clean up tsunami debris, but the money was given to NOAA, which doesn’t have the authority to disperse it. ┬áThe senators’ legislation would change that.

Merkley described the act as “common sense legislation” and says that, in a tough economy, the reimbursement money is important for the states affected by the tsunami debris. “Our coastal communities are already facing tough economic conditions,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to face bigger budget cuts just trying to keep our beaches clean and safe.”

Oregon’s beaches have already seen the arrival of a fair amount of tsunami debris; in 2012, a 66-foot dock washed ashore in Newport. The dock cost the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation $85,000 to remove. ┬áThe department spent a total of $300,000 on tsunami cleanup that was not eligible for reimbursement.

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