Workers begin dismantling tsunami dock

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — After two days of weather delays, workers began removal of a 65-foot-long dock that washed ashore from Japan.

The weather cleared enough for crews from Undersea Co. of Port Townsend, the contractor tasked with removing the dock from a narrow beach between the Hoh River and LaPush, to begin dismantling the dock using wire saws Sunday, Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Monday.

“They were able to get some of it cut into sections,” Maynes said.

The Undersea Co. is in charge of dismantling the 185-ton dock into smaller, more manageable pieces, which will be lifted by helicopter to a landing site on private land, and trucked out from there, officials have said.

Officials have not identified the location of the removal site.

The remote beach is so narrow that work must be done during low tide.

Daylight low tides had not been available from March 10 to March 15.

Crews were unable to access the dock Friday and Saturday because of weather conditions, Maynes said.

Removal is expected to be finished by the end of this month.

The 20-foot-wide, 7-foot-tall structure landed on the beach along Olympic National Park and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in December.

The Japanese government has confirmed that it is a remnant of the estimated 5 million tons of debris swept into the ocean by the March 2011 Japanese tsunami that followed a cataclysmic earthquake.

The dock cannot be towed off the beach at high tide because it has been damaged by waves and rocks since it washed ashore near the mouth of Mosquito Creek, and it cannot be sunk to be used as an artificial reef since it is made of plastic foam encased in concrete, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the marine sanctuary.

Japan is paying most of the $628,000 removal cost, providing $478,000.

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Park Service each will pay $75,000.

In early January, staff members from state and federal agencies hiked in and removed more than 400 pounds of non-native plant and animal life found clinging to the dock and then used a diluted bleach solution to wash the structure to prevent spread of the invasive species.

The state Department of Ecology said that between 30 and 50 species of marine plants and animals not found in the United States but native to Japan had attached themselves to it.

Updated information is available at a NOAA debris-removal blog at www.tinyurl.com/a773fy8

Anyone sighting other significant debris that may be from the tsunami is asked to report it to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

There are two government websites with information on tsunami debris: www.marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris and http://marinedebris.wa.gov.



Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 18. 2013 6:02PM
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