SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon is at odds with the federal government over how to use money from Japan meant for cleaning up tsunami debris. It can’t be used to reimburse the state for money it’s already spent.
The Japanese government donated $5 million to the US this fall to help pay for the cost of cleaning up debris from last year’s deadly tsunami. But Oregon hasn't seen a penny of that money so far.
Governor John Kitzhaber's natural resources advisor, Gabriela Goldfarb, says the federal government is refusing to reimburse states for costs already incurred. She says instead, the state has been told it can only use the money for future costs.
Goldfarb calls that policy frustrating.
"Our understanding is there were no strings attached to that funding from the Japanese government. Their intention was to help the tsunami debris affected jurisdictions."
Goldfarb says Oregon has already spent more than $300,000 to clean up debris, including the 200 ton dock that washed up near Newport. A newly signed tsunami debris plan includes strategies to tackle incoming ocean junk, including the possibility of corralling it at sea and dealing with it there.
On the Web:
Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Plan (Oregon.gov)