Canada and B.C. Accept Japanese Funding to Address Tsunami Debris

VANCOUVER, March 13, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, accepted on behalf of Canada a one-time grant of approximately $1 million from the Government of Japan to support clean-up work associated with debris from the March 2011 Japanese tsunami. It was also announced that this funding would be transferred to and administered by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

"The Government of Canada is committed to cooperating with provinces, territories and other stakeholders to protect Canada's fresh water and coastal waters," said Minister Kent. "We gratefully accept Japan's offer and will continue to work collaboratively to address the unique local challenge of tsunami debris."

"British Columbians not only share in Japan's loss due to the Great Earthquake and tsunami of 2011, but they share the Pacific Ocean as a common neighbour and therefore truly understand the long lasting impact this kind of natural disaster has on communities," said Terry Lake, British Columbia Minister of Environment. "We are truly grateful for this generous gift that will assist in ensuring our coastline is clean and safe."

"The ex gratia grant extended by the Government of Japan represents a token of gratitude to the Government of Canada and the Canadian people in recognition of the tremendous support provided to Japan in the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake," said Seiji Okada, Consul-General of Japan in Vancouver, on behalf of H.E. Kaoru Ishikawa, Ambassador of Japan to Canada.

The funding will be directed toward activities in the following areas:

  • Support for coastal communities and First Nations with debris planning, management and clean-up effort;
  • Shoreline monitoring, removal and disposal of large objects of tsunami origin;
  • Training and education about tsunami debris identification and disposal; and
  • Support toward tsunami debris clean-up efforts in coastal provincial and federal parks.

Oversight for the funding will be provided through the Federal-Provincial Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee (TDCC). The TDCC works with local governments, the volunteer sector, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and California, Oregon and Washington in the United States to develop a coordinated response to tsunami debris on our collective shorelines. Representatives of Environment Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Environment serve as co-chairs of the TDCC.

The Japanese government estimates that about 1.5 million tonnes of debris was washed out into Pacific Ocean soon after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 2011. Japan considers that some of this debris remains afloat.To put this amount in perspective, 1.5 million tonnes is roughly half of the 3 million tonnes of municipal solid waste produced in Metro Vancouver in 2010. Since leaving the coast of Japan, tsunami debris has been widely dispersed by ocean currents and winds.

While marine debris regularly washes up on British Columbia's shores, confirmed pieces of tsunami debris have begun to arrive on the west coast. The majority of the debris that are expected to arrive are small and mostly consist of plastics, styrofoam, construction debris, rope, fishing nets and buoys.

More information about the federal-provincial response to the arrival of tsunami debris can be found at www.tsunamidebrisbc.ca.

SOURCE: Environment Canada

For further information:

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante
Director of Media Relations
Office of the Minister of the Environment
819-997-1441

Media Relations
Environment Canada
819-934-8008

British Columbia Ministry of Environment Communications
250-953-3834

Environment Canada's Twitter page: http://twitter.com/environmentca

Environment Canada's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/environmentcan

(Également offert en français)


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