Wake Island sits in the North Pacific Ocean within the footprint of the now well-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch. So, it’s no surprise that marine debris continues to accumulate on the shores of this 2.8 square mile remote Pacific island. In years past, Wake Island beach cleanups were a regularly scheduled affair for those willing to help. Yet somehow, more than a year had passed since the last cleanup, despite many concerns expressed about the accumulation of marine debris on the beach. After speaking with Bruce Steely, Deputy Director of the 611th CES, Brice electrician, Brian Rasco, decided to take the reins, and spent one Saturday obtaining approvals and support from the Wake Island BOS contractor and US Air Force Detachment 1 Commander.
From the mainland, Marc Hobbs, Brice Construction Manager for Wake Island, gave his blessing and approved the use Brice equipment to support the effort. “Supporting a beach cleanup on Wake Island is a no brainer. It’s the right thing to do, for the environment and for the Wake Island community,” said Marc. “A lot of our guys have been there long enough that they have a sense of ownership for the island. It’s also a morale booster to improve the community where they spend much of their lives working far away from home.”
With approvals in hand by Saturday night, 22 volunteers from Brice, the Air Force, the BOS contractor, and other island contractors, were up and at it the next day (Sunday, 29th of September). A Brice dump truck was staged for large load delivery of debris to the island’s Solid Waste Accumulation Area, as well as a skid steer, a mini excavator, and several small trash receptacles from the Brice camp. The BOS contractor and USAF DET 1 had approved the use of UTVs on the beach, which made the effort much easier.
After 2.5 hours, the team had collected four dump truck loads of plastics and fishing nets from 1/3 mile of beachfront. The following weekend, 25 volunteers spent 3 hours scouring 4/10 of a mile of beachfront and collected two dump truck loads of mostly small pieces of plastic. Though the team endured a brief downpour halfway through the cleanup, their spirits weren’t dampened. Proud, tired, and hungry, Brice hosted a barbecue at the Brice camp to celebrate this community effort.
It’s a pleasure to have Brice on the island,” said Bruce Steely. “Even on their day off, they are willing to get their hands dirty to give back to the community, organizing volunteers to clean up the debris that washes up endlessly on the beaches of this beautiful island.”
*Brice Environmental has executed over 15 construction and environmental projects on Wake Island in the last 3.5 years.