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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Tsunami Debris Workgroup Bulletin 

December 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 9 and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continue to collaborate with Federal and State partners as well as external stakeholders to assess and monitor the movement of the tsunami debris. Updated computer models show that debris may begin impacting the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as early as January/February 2012, so recent efforts have focused on monitoring, assessment and response strategies in the vicinity of Kure and Midway Atoll.

Recent Activities:

  • NOAA,USEPA and USFWS hold bi-weekly conference calls between the three federal agencies to discuss debris monitoring and tracking strategies for Midway Atoll.
  • USFWS is continuing systematic shoreline monitoring and removal of debris on Sand and Eastern Islands on Midway Atoll every 28 days.
  • USFWS continues to collect marine debris deposition data from Tern Island in French Frigate Shoals.
  • The State of Hawaii is assisting with marine debris deposition data collection at Kure Atoll.
  • NOAA is looking into obtaining high-resolution satellite imagery of possible tsunami debris in the open ocean.
  • USEPA is looking into options for possible aerial reconnaissance missions to sight debris in the vicinity of Midway Atoll.
  • NOAA is looking into overflight assistance from agency partners to collect data and information on the tsunami debris in the North Pacific.
  • NOAA is working to convene various oceanographic modeling experts to ensure that the best possible information on debris movement and predicted location is used to inform satellite imagery acquisition and overflight assistance.
  • NOAA is working in the region to coordinate and convene a workshop of agency partners and stakeholders to move forward in building contingency plans for the assessment and response to tsunami debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands.
  • NOAA has developed a comprehensive assessment and response framework for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which will include various subject matter expert (SME) groups.

For More Information

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) can provide information to individuals or groups interested in undertaking shoreline monitoring studies for Japan tsunami marine debris. Effective monitoring of changes in environmental conditions, such as the abundance of marine debris, requires a good deal of forethought. For more information or to request a copy of the NOAA MDP Shoreline Survey Field Guide visit NOAA's Marine Debris website.

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