Oregon Coast Cleanup Sees Oddities, Tons of Trash, Clear Skies
(Oregon Coast) – A surprise bout of nice weather, an interesting collection of oddities, some record numbers for volunteers in at least one area, a bit of unusual scrutiny and a whole lotta junk taken off the beaches comprised Saturday's SOLVE Spring Beach Cleanup along the Oregon coast. SOLVE officials report over 3,758 people turned out to volunteer, removing an estimated 58,883 pounds of trash and debris from the state's pristine sands. Not all of it hit the landfills, either: 1,565 pounds of went into recycling bins (above: buckets of hazardous nails found in Newport - photo courtesy Charlie Plybon).
Charlie Plybon, with the Oregon chapter of Surfrider Foundation, was the zone captain for the Agate Beach area of Newport on Saturday. He said in spite of dire predictions for unruly weather, conditions stayed fairly nice.
“The skies parted for a substantial time during the cleanup,” Plybon said. “We had a few squalls, but mostly it stayed pretty dry.”
Near South Beach
SOLVE Executive Director Melisa McDonald said Oregonians really showed their true colors this weekend: an environmentally-conscious shade of green.
"It was inspiring to see the thousands of volunteers facing the wind and rain to keep our coastline clean and pristine," McDonald said.
This year, however, the cleanup had a particular spin to it with volunteers working with NOAA on keeping an eye out for any possible debris from last year's tsunami in Japan. Mostly, however, officials are trying to establish the “normal” numbers for what usually washes up here from Asian countries to use for future comparison. SOLVE Beach Cleanup volunteers were asked to fill out Marine Debris Data Cards and were instructed to report any significant sighting of debris.
Near Cannon Beach
McDonald said nothing out of the ordinary showed up in terms of debris from Asia, however.
“Nothing unusual or in mass quantities, and nothing that could be directly attributed to the tsunami,” McDonald said.
Scientists predict the bulk of debris from the tsunami could potentially reach the West Coast in 2013. The first chunk of stuff will likely be the more buoyant materials from Japan, such as floats and other fishing gear, lumber, containers, and plastic items of different types.
"These types of debris regularly wash up on Oregon's shores from all over the world, so it was particularly helpful to have volunteers out there today collecting data that will help us better assess the impact of debris on the coast,” said Diana Bartlett, SOLVE Program Coordinator.
Lots of plastic was again a problem. SOLVE said there was some rope and netting as well – and then there were the wild oddities.
Among the most unusual items were plastic dinosaurs, a teddy bear from Illinois, a box of paperback books, and an entire big wheel riding toy. Volunteers reported finding two port-a-potties, including one that was ripped out of a Lincoln City resident's yard during the flooding this past January. Volunteers also reported finding items from all over the world, including baby food and beverage bottles with Chinese and Japanese labels and a disc from Russia.
Plybon's group at Agate Beach found a lot of disturbing nails. A little-known hazard on Oregon beaches is when people burn wood palettes in their beach fires it leaves behind nails in the sand.
“We picked up seven 5-gallon buckets of nails from the beach,” Plybon said.
In Cannon Beach, Jenee Pearce-Mushen was zone captain for that area and had 206 volunteers there – not including two dogs. She said there were a lot of tires, some chairs, and a huge piece of pipe that weighed about 80 pounds was found in the Cannon Beach area. It took more than one person to haul that out of Ecola Creek State Park.
Down around Yachats, Doug Sestrich was in charge of the area from Yachats to South Beach, which is about 20 miles of beaches. He didn't have the exact number of volunteers but said it was a record turnout for that area.
The strangest thing found in that area was a four-foot chunk of a railroad, including some rail ties. Second strangest was a plastic bottle of shoe polish from Russia. Sestrich also reported a lot of really large chunks of styrofoam, often four feet long.
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