Local tsunami debris group unique in BC

  • May. 24, 2013 10:00 a.m.

An island-based coalition is tackling the tsunami debris issue head on, and is asking the province for money to manage, clean up and monitor the debris, if and when it comes. All communities on Graham Island are participating. This summer, they hope to identify key locations for clean-up and monitoring, and organize and document beach clean ups where necessary, using both volunteers and contract workers. The committee was struck after the issue was raised last fall at the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities). “We thought it would be important to put a management plan together…to determine what the problem is,”Queen Charlotte CAO Peter Weeber told council Tuesday evening. So far, the committee is unique in the province. “We are breaking new ground here. Nobody else in the province has a formal management strategy”, Mr. Weeber said, also noting that “nobody has reported any heavy debris yet.” The group is asking the province for $64,000 this year and another $30,000 for next year, expecting the money will come from the $1-million plus Japan offered as tsunami relief several months ago. If it receives the money, it plans to make an inventory of debris sites, clean up as many as possible and store or dispose of the debris found. It plans to work closely with BC Parks and Gwaii Haanas as well as several other organizations including Haida Fisheries and the regional district. It expects to use volunteers where possible to clean up sites that are accessible by road, and paid workers at sites accessible only by water. Debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan has been working its way across the Pacific since then, with several pieces, including a motorcycle, found on Haida Gwaii last year. It’s not clear if and when a substantial volume will arrive here, but it’s being treated as a chronic threat. The group asked QC council for a letter of support Tuesday evening, and council agreed.