West Coast waves dropped a sore sight onto the Toquaht First Nation’s doorstep as about 300 tires, held together by chains, crashed into Macoah.
Toquaht Chief Anne Mack discovered the tires on Nov. 24 and elected councillor Noah Plonka quickly organized an emergency cleanup to get them off the beach.
“What a mess. We had to do something right away,” Plonka said.
“The concern we had was that the tires were right near our new waste water outfall, and we were worried the debris could damage that pipe.”
The Nation’s director of lands, public works and resources Juliet Van Vliet said a contractor made quick work of the tire’s removal.
“A local contractor was out in the community doing some work for the Nation, and they helped by removing the majority of the tires from the beach and bringing them to Macoah,” she said.
“Luckily, the debris was very accessible and the work did not take long.”
She said the tires were full of Styrofoam, bringing further concern over their potential environmental impact.
“This is an exclusive bivalve harvest area for the Toquaht Nation,” she said. “The tires are filled with foam, and the foam was breaking down and contaminating the beach.
“This kind of foam material has extremely detrimental effects on wildlife. Since this is a Toquaht shellfish harvest area, we were very concerned immediately about our shellfish and the Nation’s food security.”
The Nation has been unable to determine where the tires came from.
“This area of beach is in the central part of Macoah, so it is unlikely they would have been there longer than a day or so before being noticed,” Van Vliet said.
“These debris washed up at about the same time the containers washed up from a container ship spill off of the West Coast of Vancouver Island, but really it is anyone’s best guess as to where the debris came from.”
The tires remained in Macoah on Friday waiting to be taken to a landfill, a trip the Nation would likely have to pay for from its own pocket.
“Our local contractor was kind enough to roll this work into the work they were doing for the Nation, and the debris were pretty easily accessed but we are not yet sure if we will be invoiced for this work,” Van Vliet said.
“The Nation will pay to have the tires taken to the dump. We don’t know of any avenues for cost compensation for this kind of emergency clean-up effort.”
Chief Anne Mack hopes to see the federal government put a keener focus on oceanic debris.
“We like to keep our environment clean, it would be nice if DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada] could keep an eye on the debris that is out there,” she said.