All NEW Investors: Your gift matched $ for $ this week! GIVE NOW
Japan's quake

Tsunami trash headed to our Pacific shores

Adriene Hill May 3, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Well from China to Japan now, and the millions of tons of debris floating across the Pacific after last year’s tsunami. Some of it has started to arrive on the U.S. West Coast.

And now, as Marketplace’s Adriene Hill reports, somebody’s going to have to pay to clean it up.


Adriene Hill: It’s hard to say exactly how much debris — from soccer balls to fishing boats — will land on U.S. beaches. And, because of that, it’s hard to put a price tag on the clean-up.

But U.S. Sen. Mark Begich from Alaska guesses it’s not going to be cheap.

Mark Begich: It will easily be in the millions to clean this up. 

And it’s not really clear who’s going to pay.

Begich: It’s going to be a combination of federal government; state government; local governments; to some extent, nonprofit groups and the private sector — because it’s not going to be able to be done by one single entity.  

NOAA spokesperson Diana Parker says a big part of the clean-up responsibility will fall to do-gooders.

Diana Parker: For smaller debris, like consumer plastics or Styrofoam we’re going to rely pretty heavily on volunteer groups that have already formed to deal with marine debris.

Senator Begich says there’s no way volunteer help will be enough. He’s holding a Senate hearing on tsunami debris in the next couple of weeks.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.