NEWPORT — Charlie Plybon was headed to the beach to photograph the Oregon King Tide on Saturday, Feb. 8, when he encountered “loads of debris… including a mound of dumped trash, eight-feet high,” he said.
Plybon, Oregon policy manager for Surfrider Foundation (surfrider.org), took action.
“If we want to enjoy our public lands,” he explained, “we all need to be good stewards.”
So Plybon, with the help of his neighbors, Becky Baker and her son, Max Baker, started cleaning it up.
“This is becoming an increasing problem on the Oregon Coast,” Plybon said of the meth lab remains dumped on the beach.
It wasn’t clear what it was at first, Plybon said. There were dog food bags and other household items. Then they uncovered solvent containers, boxes of lye, bleach containers… “the makings and fixings of methamphetamine,” explained Plybon.
“It didn’t seem dangerous,” Plybon said, “but it needed to be handled with care.”
Plybon wasn’t inclined to disclose the location where he found the two dozen black bags of trash covered with driftwood and rope, as he didn’t want to reveal the place where beach access by vehicle is too accessible.
The bags were tied together, piled with driftwood and set on fire, Plybon said. Had the tide come in, the toxic debris would have been spread up and down the coast.
Plybon explained that illegal dumping on public right of ways and public land is an increasing problem in our area. He’d like to see beach access better restricted, while still allowing emergency vehicle access.
Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OSPRD) was responsive, said Plybon. Park Ranger Ryan Parker hauled away 1,590 pounds of trash.
Plybon noted that there is an ongoing investigation as there was identifying information found in the debris.
While he suggested that more enforcement of such violations is necessary, Plybon said that he wants keep the focus on solutions.
“We cleaned this up because of great neighbors and great parks,” he said.
Plybon concluded, “We can all be responsible. We can all participate in beach clean-ups.”
Local efforts include the upcoming Surfrider Beach Cleanup, scheduled for Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. at Agate Beach Wayside.