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Japan gifts U.S. $6 million toward debris cleanup

September 14th, 2012 | Hannah Heimbuch Print this article   Email this article  

At a recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in eastern Russia, Japan announced it would be sending $6 million to North America to assist the U.S. and Canada address tsunami debris concerns on the Pacific Coast.

This is in response to a growing concern about marine debris from Japan's devastating March 2011 tsunami, which is beginning to show up on coastlines around the Pacific — including Alaska.

Sen. Mark Begich called the gift a welcome contribution and a signal that a continued financial and collaborative effort by U.S. officials is needed in order to deal with the mounting debris issue.

"The 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan, claiming thousands and lives destroying entire coastal communities," Begich said in a release? "It also swept 1.5 million tons of debris out to sea which is now making landfall along the west coast from California and Hawaii to the Gulf of Alaska."

The monetary gift will be split between the two countries — with $5 million going to the U.S. and $1 million to Canada.

"Alaskans greatly appreciate this gift," Begich said. "As a goodwill gesture between two close friends, trading partners, and allies. It will help West Coast states, including Alaska, cope with th?onslaught of debris expected along our shores over the next few years."

Alaska's congressional leaders have been urging U.S. government agencies and leaders to take the threat of this debris more seriously, and to put plans and funds in place to deal with it safely and effectively.

"It is now time for the federal government to step forward with a plan for a coordinated interagency response to address this problem in the long term and the necessary funding to supplement this generous gift from the Japanese people? Meager federal funding of just $250,000 remains inadequate to address this slow-motion disaster which is impacting all of the Pacific coast states."

Hannah Heimbuch can be reached at


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