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Washington's Department of Ecology started a phone number to help beach-goers report large pieces of suspected tsunami debris.

People are asked to call 1-855-WACOAST (1-855-922-6278) if they see anything believed to have been washed away in the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

The line is picked up by a recording designed to point callers in the right direction depending on what type of debris they've come across. Here's what happens when you call:

  • Chemical-related calls will be directed to 1-800-OILS-911
  • Calls about large debris, such as ships or the dock found in Oregon, will be directed to a 24-hour U.S. Coast Guard command center
  • All other items are instructed to be emailed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • If you have a question, you can also leave a message

To quickly notify authorities, the best course of action regarding most debris is to take a picture and email it to disasterdebris@noaa.gov.

NOAAalso wants to know about objects that could be potentially returned to its owner in Japan; things like the Harley Davidson motorcycle found inCanada, a 20-foot boat found at Cape Disappointment, and a soccer ball in Alaska have all been traced back to their original owners.

Smaller items such as floats, wood, trash, bottles and foam, are okay to throw away, state ecologists said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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