The Japanese Dock’s days are now clearly numbered. Ballard Diving and Salvage out of Vancouver began building a railroad-tie-road from the Agate Beach parking area to the ocean. Soon cut-up pieces of the dock will travel southward from the dock to a straight line road across the sand to Oceanview Avenue. From there the pieces will be transported to a recycling center. The dock is full of rebar, stainless steel and concrete. Ballard figures it’ll take them until Friday sometime to get the dock removed.
But before they do, they’ll separate what is the southeast corner of the dock and deliver it to the city of Newport for use in some kind of a Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami Memorial. Newport’s sister city is in Japan.
The Japanese Dock was slated for quick removal largely based on the fact that it was loaded with invasive species that might bode ill for Oregon’s coastal ecology. But Dr. John Chapman of Hatfield Marine Science Center announced recently that whatever uniquely Japanese species arrived on the dock were already well distributed along a mile of beach from Agate Beach to the north jetty in Newport. If or when these foreign critters will start popping up is anyone’s guess, according to Dr. Chapman.
Yet, the decision to dismantle the dock had other supporting positions such as the instability of the dock. The tides have already turned it counter-clockwise 45 degrees toward the south. State Parks, who has legal jurisdiction over Oregon beaches, is concerned about liability should people get hurt crawling on it or injured if, at high tide, the dock was to suddenly move or lurch one way or another.
At any rate, one of Newport’s greatest tourist attractions since the creation of the Pacific Ocean will be gone by Friday. NOAA says we’ve got a lot more tsunami debris arriving sometime this winter, so who knows what will show up on local beaches. Our local business community is hoping that a whale of a treasure hunt will continue to draw lots of tourists to our beaches over the next couple of years. The Coast Guard reports that a large piece of foam and two tanks welded together are floating off the central coast, posing a hazard to mariners. Hopefully there will be something more interesting than that to keep the tourists coming.
It’s true, that anything that stays put in a public place long enough gets an “interpretive treatment,” or in this case, a painting of tsunami waves on the side of the Japanese floating dock that came ashore on Agate Beach June 4th. The dock was blown out of its moorage in Masawa Japan by the Japanese Tsunami that decimated Honshu’s east coastline on March 11th of last year.
The artistic add-on will be short-lived, however, since demolition of the dock is expected to begin next Tuesday.
A crew from Ballard Diving and Salvage of Vancouver, WA will begin removing the derelict dock at Agate Beach starting the morning of Tuesday, July 31. The beach will remain open to the public during the work, except for a closed safety zone around the dock demolition site. The project will take three to seven days depending on tide and safety needs. The 66’ long, 19’ wide, 7’ tall dock washed ashore early the morning of June 4 and is believed to weigh 130-165 tons. It originated from the Japanese port city of Misawa in the Aomori Prefecture, and was carried out to sea during the March 2011 tsunami.
Ballard was awarded a contract for $84,155 to complete the work. The firm is responsible for removing the dock, recycling or disposing of the material, and restoring the work site on the beach. To minimize damage to the beach, the salvage experts plan to cut the dock into several large pieces, place them on a heavy-haul truck at the main Agate Beach access road, and transport them to a Portland-area facility for final demolition and recycling. The work site will have 24-hour security, and portions of the beach may temporarily close as sections of the dock are transported to the road (less than a half mile south of the dock). Biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will inspect the bottom of the dock as it is removed for possible invasive species.
Residents and visitors can expect congestion in and around the Agate Beach State Park, Highway 101 and NW Oceanview Drive during the project. The main Agate Beach parking lot will be open, but the smaller, roadside parking area will be closed for the duration of the work starting Monday, July 30.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for maintaining the beach in as natural a state as possible. When boats and structures wash ashore — and they do every year — they are removed. Park staff and thousands of volunteers also put in tens of thousands of hours of effort to remove smaller pieces of debris to preserve Oregon’s beautiful beaches. Individuals or groups interested in volunteering for future beach cleanups can visit http://bit.ly/MvxUI4 . A list of upcoming beach cleanups (and other events) is online at http://solv.org/get-involved/volunteer-event.
The federal government has, so far, offered $50,000 per state to aid in their tsunami disaster clean up costs. But state officials call that a drop in the ocean. To dispose of just the Japanese dock that came ashore at Newport’s Agate Beach, was nearly twice that. That’s why the governors of Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California are seeking tall dollars from Uncle Sam to cover the extraordinary costs likely to be incurred when more of the tsunami debris starts showing up on their shores later this winter.
The Coast Guard has ended its search for what was reported to be a second Japanese floating dock slowly gliding down the northern Oregon Coast.
The dock pictured above is a photo that apparently never made it into the hands of law enforcement or the news media, that is, until testerday. It was delivered to the Tillamook Headlight Herald by a fisherman who had gotten it from another fisherman, after being told that it was a recent photograph. As it turned out the photo had been snapped in early June just before a Japanese floating dock came ashore at Agate Beach, north of Newport.
So, it was perhaps more of a misunderstanding than a deliberate hoax. However, the good part of the story is that the Governor’s Task Force on Tsunami Debris swung into action and was busy making sure the dock didn’t make landfall anywhere and was considering a plan to take it farther out to sea where it could be scuttled safely. But not before, as it turns out, researchers at Hatfield Marine Science Center had a chance to send divers under and around it to scrape the invasive critters from it. Researcher Dr. John Chapman, under the impression at the time that the dock was actually out there, said that the information they’re getting from the first batch of invasive species is quite surprising and that a second load would have created a better framework of analysis on species migration, reproductive behavior and other information to shed light on the dock’s role as a modern day Noah’s Ark that managed to keep it’s sealife alive and reproducing on the trip over. Also which species did better than others.
At any rate…if nothing else it was a really good drill.