A dock set adrift by the massive tsunami in Japan two years ago is in the process of being dismantled. The dock broke loose during the tsunami and traveled across the Pacific Ocean, where it was deposited on a Washington state beach.
The dock was discovered on December 18, 2012 in a remote section of Olympic National Park by a US Coast Guard helicopter. The area was initially impossible to reach because of high seas.
But the Undersea Company of Port Townsend, Washington has been able to reach the dock. The company began to dismantle the monster piece of rock on March 19. The sea and wind have worked to push sand and cobbles around the dock. Because of this, workers will have to excavate the tsunami dock before they use saws to cut it into manageable pieces.
They will use a helicopter to remove the pieces. Debris from the 2010 tsunami has been washing up along the Pacific coast, as well as on islands in the Pacific for the past year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has so far confirmed 21 pieces of tsunami debris using attached serial numbers, as well as other identifying marks.
The debris includes the Washington dock, small boats, a 25-foot-long steel tank, and a soccer ball. The dock in Olympic National Park is also not the first to wash ashore from the tsunami. A second floating dock similarly showed up on the Oregon coast last year.
There has also been an increasing observance of Styrofoam and housing insulation debris. While the debris has not been definitively linked to the tsunami, the timing suggests this is where it came from.
An estimated five million tons of materials were dragged out to sea during the 2010 tsunami. Most of that debris (about 70 percent) is believed to have sank off the coast of Japan. But the remaining 1.5 million tons will either make its way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or will end up on US shores.
While pieces of insulation, derelict fishing boats, and a soccer ball may not pose a threat to US coast lines, the docks are of particular concern to marine biologists, who worry that invasive marine species may be introduced to the coast. The tsunami dock that washed ashore in Oregon had an estimated 13 pounds of organisms per square foot. Marine specialists immediately worked to remove and destroy the organisms — some of which were potentially invasive.
Along with new species, there has been some concern that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant may also wash up with the debris. However, so far no tsunami debris has been radioactive.
As workers in Washington state work to dismantle the tsunami dock, Japanese citizens are still working to clean up their cities that were devastated by the powerful wave.