Northwest Lawmakers Say Tsunami Debris Grants Not Enough

Jul 17, 2012

Lawmakers from the Northwest are asking the federal government to provide millions of dollars to clean up debris from the tsunami that hit Japan last year. But Matt Laslo reports from the nation’s capital that thus far the region is only eligible for thousands of dollars.

Officials are calling the debris a slow moving environmental disaster, and its already starting to wash up on the region’s shores. The cleanup is expected to take years. Lawmakers are asking the federal government for more than $40 million to assist local officials in an unprecedented cleanup effort. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is allocating just $250,000 to the five affected states, meaning each state is currently eligible for a maximum of just $50,000. Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley says he doubts that money will be adequate.

Merkley: “We’re just in the front end of the wave of debris coming across the ocean. I would suspect the funds needed for cleanup will be much larger.”

States may be able to access the federal cash by the end of this month. Lawmakers expect state officials to burn through the money quickly, so they’re already lobbying NOAA officials for more money to clean up the debris.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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