Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Co-ordinated plan for tsunami debris in place #bcpoli

Sept. 25, 2012
Ministry of Environment

VICTORIA - B.C. Minister of Environment Terry Lake is releasing the latest update to government's Tsunami Debris Management Plan in advance of a potential increase in tsunami debris that may begin washing up on B.C.'s coastline this winter.

The Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee, a joint committee chaired by senior representatives from the B.C. government and Government of Canada, has completed Phase One and has now established a framework for Phase Two of a Tsunami Debris Management Plan.

While tsunami debris may present a planning challenge, the reality is that debris from Asia and other parts of the world washes up regularly along the B.C. Coast. To date, there has only been a minimal amount of confirmed debris from the tsunami and scientific experts have determined that it is unlikely any tsunami debris that may come onto B.C. shores will pose a significant environmental or public-health risk. With a strong and scalable Tsunami Debris Management Plan in place, B.C. will be well equipped to manage the situation.

The Phase Two framework focuses on how the government of B.C. will work with coastal communities to assess and determine specific challenges associated with the collection, removal, and landfilling of tsunami debris. The framework also outlines several other components including: monitoring and surveillance of tsunami debris, establishing a framework for volunteer participation and developing protocols for aquatic invasive species.

Phase Two is being developed in consultation with First Nations and local governments and is expected to be completed by the end of October. Meeting this timeline will require the concerted efforts of all partners.

The Phase One plan, posted last month on government's tsunami debris website - www.tsunamidebrisbc.ca - established protocols on how todeal with tsunami debris, identified roles and responsibilities of government and partner agencies, and provided an assessment of risks relating to with tsunami debris.

Additionally, the Ministry of Environment has named Jonn Braman as the regional director for tsunami debris. In this new position, which reports to the co-chairs of the Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee, Braman will lead the collaborative efforts of the federal/provincial partners in dealing with tsunami debris.

Braman was previously the South Coast regional director responsible for environmental protection and has participated in cleanups and disaster response following the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, the 2007 earthquake and tsunami in Peru and the 2009 tsunami that hit Samoa.

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