State Lawmakers Approve Funding for Tsunami Debris Cleanup


by Victoria Taylor

ANCHORAGE-The end of session means bills were passed and decisions on how to spend the state budget were made. Funds have been allocated for school projects, the railroad system and for tsunami debris cleanup; however, Gov. Parnell will need to sign off on the final proposal.

After the deadly tsunami and 9.0 earthquake left thousands dead and injured on the island of Japan in 2011, the debris from the natural disaster is starting to wash onto Alaska's shores.

Reports of furniture, styrofoam, plastic and thousands of countless items began in 2012. As a result of these items washing ashore, the Japanes government donated one million dollars to the state to aid in funding cleanup.

If Gov. Parnell does sign off on the million dollar match from the state, Gulf of Alaska Keeper (GoAK) will work alongside Airborne Technologies Inc. and Island Trails Network to continue cleaning the state's beaches, "The estimate for this clean up is tens of millions of dollars and what we hope to do is get a good start and pile up a tremendous amount of debris from the high priority beaches," said Chris Pallister with GoAK.

The debris is expected to continue washing onto Alaska's beaches for the next six years.