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Tsunami debris foam littering Washington coast; basketball returned to Japan

OCEAN PARK, Wash. — It's not just fishing floats, derelict ships or docks that are washing ashore on Northwest beaches as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan crosses the Pacific.

There's also foam — chunks, slabs and smaller pieces of plastic foam insulation, apparently torn loose by the tsunami.

Ocean Park resident Ellen Anderson is founding member of the Grassroots Garbage Gang. The volunteers pick up trash along the Long Beach Peninsula.

Anderson told The Seattle Times that during one two-day period this month she collected more than 650 pieces of foam from a one-mile stretch of beach.

In a survey Sunday the Grassroots Garbage Gang counted more than 6,700 pieces of foam along a 13-miles stretch of beach.

Alaska returns basketball washed away by tsunami

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A basketball that was washed away in last year's tsunami has been reunited with students at a middle school in Japan.

A beachcombing student found the basketball in March on a beach near Craig, Alaska.

It had the words "Kesen chu," short for Kesennuma Chugakko or Kesennuma Middle School in Rikuzentakata, printed on it.

Students in Alaska sent back the ball with words of encouragement for the Japanese students, half of whom remain in temporary housing.

Students and school officials in Japan opened the cardboard box and immediately began playing ball. They called the basketball's return a miracle and said it brings back memories.

A soccer ball, a volleyball and a buoy, all found in Alaska, also are being returned this week to their owners in Japan by FedEx.

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