Safety tips for tsunami and other beach debris

What to do if you find debris

Excerpted from KPLU’s report, Things you’ll find from the Japanese tsunami on NW beaches are these great tips and contacts. Be very careful if you spot containers of any kind. They may be corroded, unlabeled or have unreadable labels. Stay safe and call local authorities at non emergency phone numbers or the Household Hazards Line at 206-296-4692, 1-888-TOXIC ED for guidance.

  • Be safe: If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it. Collect as much information from a safe distance as you can – including photos – and report the debris to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. If the item appears unusual or hazardous, contact your local authorities for specific guidance and instructions (see below).
  • Litter and other typical marine debris items: Common marine debris types will vary by location. If an object can be linked to the tsunami, please report it to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. Please provide as much information as possible. Where it’s safe and practical to do so, people should remove the debris and recycle any plastics or metals.
  • Hazardous materials: Drums, fuel tanks and containers, gas cans, gas cylinders, chemical storage totes. Do not touch or attempt to move the item. Give authorities a detailed report about what you’ve observed.  Call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 AND 1-800-OILS-911 (1-800-645-7911).
  • Aluminum Canisters: 10-inch aluminum insecticide canisters often are found in high tide zones. Do not open the cap since these fumigant canisters may contain small amounts of toxic phosphine gas. Call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 AND 1-800-OILS-911 (1-800-645-7911).
  • Derelict boat or other large debris item: Do not attempt to move or remove the boat. Report it to the U.S. Coast Guard 24-Hour Command Center, 206-217-6001.
  • Personal effects or possessions from Japan tsunami: Items that appear to be personal belongings should be treated with respect. They should be reported with as much relevant detail as possible. Generally, these objects should be left in place for later retrieval. However, if the object appears likely to be moved by tide or wave action and it is safe to do so, consider moving the object above the high-tide line. Report these to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.
  • Human remains: It is extremely unlikely any human remains from the tsunami will reach the United States. However, if you encounter any remains, immediately call 9-1-1 and give local authorities a detailed report about what you observed. Do not touch or attempt to move.
  • Unknown Item: Don’t touch or attempt to move the item. Give local authorities a detailed report about what you observed.