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January 16, 2014

Foam Trash Plagues Coos Bay Beaches

February 1 update, go here. New Years for Coos Bay brought 50-60ft sections of a privately owned dock to Lighthouse Beach presenting homeowners, beach-lovers and natural resource agencies with criminal loads of plastic foam (polystyrene a.k.a “white trash”) within the marine and beach environment and along personal property. While OPRD and volunteers have been desperately working around the clock to remove what they can, the white trash continues to break apart into smaller and smaller fragments, being released into the marine waters and coastline like a ship spewing oil.

webcoos6Volunteer to help: Surfrider Foundation has been steadily supporting volunteer cleanup efforts with our Coos Bay chapter, along with other Oregon Marine Debris Team partners such as Washed Ashore. Scott Gregory of our Coos Bay Chapter is serving as a point for volunteers interested in helping out, obtaining access and information. Bags are available onsite, however its good to get instruction on tides, debris disposal, etc. before hand. Volunteer contact information is go here.

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Docks after washing ashore prior to break up

Docks after washing ashore prior to break up

Surfrider Volunteer Elise Fields sifts through the mess

Surfrider Volunteer Elise Fields sifts through the mess

Southwestern Community College Baseball Team raking into piles

Southwestern Community College Baseball Team raking into piles

Southwestern Community College Volunteers form debris chains

Southwestern Community College Volunteers form debris chains

What Happened/Who’s Responsible? No doubt there’s a responsible party in the dock owner from Charleston. Salvage laws and Div. 27 rules make things tricky for immediate action cleanups in such cases; however the owner of the dock has been supplying some limited support during the 15 day salvage period. The dock was purchased from the Port of Coos Bay and whether or not it was ever permitted is a question we’re still seeking. When the dock broke free, Coast Guard and other authorities were aware and made limited attempts to rescue the dock. When the weather got rough, the dock was abandoned and ended up washing up on lighthouse beach, where it now continues to break apart.

Huge kudos to all the community volunteers from Surfrider, Washed Ashore, Southwestern Community College and the many others who have pitched in.

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