WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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ODFW gives Japanese Dock a thorough scrubbing to prevent invasive species from taking hold on the Oregon Coast

A team of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) personnel took rakes, shoves, claws, even blow torches to the Japanese fishing and maintenance dock that washed ashore earlier this week at Agate Beach in the north part of Newport. Authorities say the dock was once a part of the waterfront in a fishing village about 70 miles north of Tokyo until the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami changed all that by shaking it loose and then ripping it off its moorings, sending it careening out to sea. Last weekend it made landfall at Newport.

ODFW personnel were trying to head off any invasive species from Japan, clinging to the dock, that may have tried to get a toe-hold on the Oregon Coast. Both shellfish and plants from coastal Japan, and from spots along their piggy-back journey of 6,300 miles, were discovered living quite well while hitchhiking to the U.S.

Reports say that four of these 80 ton floating docks were ripped from their moorings by the Japanese Tsunami. Besides the one that washed ashore at Newport another one was recovered among debris in Japan. But two others are still unaccounted for. Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson, a life-long commercial fisherman said that after looking at the dock ashore at Agate Beach he said “If some fishing boat, off the coast of Oregon or Washington, in the pitch black of night, accidentally ran into one of those two docks, I wouldn’t want to be on that fishing boat. Those docks can send a fishing boat straight to the bottom real quick. Those docks may be out there, with no lights, no reflective materials, nothing that would give a warning to mariners. It’s scary!”

As to what’s next with efforts to dispose of the dock, State Parks officials say no option is cheap. Whether it could be dragged back out into deep water and then sunk, or chop it up on the beach, both options would cost a lot of monehy. Reports say that Japan admits that the dock belongs to them, but they have also indicated they don’t want it back and they are not willing to pay to dispose of it.

News Lincoln County has been told that it appears that there isn’t enough value in the dock’s salvageable materials to make recycling pay for the dismantling. State Parks officials say they certainly don’t have the funds to do what may be a disposal job costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. But there continues to be hope that somehow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) might come up with some money. However, FEMA says the application period for covering last year’s tsunami damage has long since past. And certainly knowing that most of the Japanese Tsunami debris will start hitting the U.S. West Coast next winter, FEMA may not be willing to expose their limited funds to the precedent set by covering the cost of dealing with the dock sprawled on Agate Beach.

At any rate, here’s News Lincoln County’s video of how the day looked as the dock was given quite a “buzz job,” and then getting a final going over with a flaming torch…

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