The Japanese tsunami dock that washed ashore at Agate Beach on the central Oregon coast took everyone by surprise.
On June 5th, 2012, a huge, 132-ton, 66-foot long dock was torn away during the 2011 Earthquake in Japan. The tsunami that followed swept it out to sea and took it approximately 50,000 miles from the port of Misawa across the Pacific Ocean, until it finally landed on a beach in Newport, Oregon.
At first, it was downright startling, not just an oddity. Scientists from the Hatfield Marine Science Center actually discovered 2-tons of foreign sea creatures, all very alive and very dangerous to local marine life. Japanese species such as Northern Pacific star fish, shore crabs and brown algae all took the center stage of attention.
Taking immediate action, they took to scraping the sea animals off as best they could and burying them 8-feet under the sand. Those that didn't come away as easily were blow-torched off the northern Japanese dock.
The huge piece of concrete and styrofoam had become quite the tourist attraction, as you might imagine, giving the Oregon coast economy and tourism a nice shot in the arm.
The Newport Chamber of Commerce was reporting a large number of calls and inquiries about the Japanese tsunami debris. As such, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department was pretty ambivalent about what to do with it. They were a bit worried that acting hastily may not be in the Oregon coast's best interest.
Although the Japanese Tsunami Dock was definitely a hazard with people hanging around it, climbing on it, taking pictures, and some even having vandalized it, it's was also bringing people from far and wide who all wanted to catch a look. What to do, what to do.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get down to the Newport area to take my own photos and video of the dock, my fellow-actor friend, Anna Dempsey, happened to be around Agate Beach on vacation at that time and was kind enough to snap some great shots for me. Thanks so much, Anna! You're a life saver! ;)
Now, the state of Oregon considered the Japanese tsunami dock a danger, so they contemplated whether to have it towed to another location of have it dismantled completely.
The debris from Japan is a piece of history. Many were considering whether to keep it around and do something with it. They finally concluded that dismantling the dock was the safest and fastest option, so they began to take bids from contractors, all wanting to take a crack at it.
The state finally settled with a Vancouver, WA company, Ballard Diving and Salvage, which won the job with a bid of $84,155. The first week of August 2012, the company began removing sand from around the dock and used a Wire Saw to cut it into sections. The sections were then placed on flat-bed trailers and the semi trucks transported it all into Portland, where the remains of the Japanese tsunami dock was completely disassembled and recycled.
Even though the dock as a whole is only a memory, a piece of the amazing Japanese tsunami debris will be retained as a local Oregon coast memorial.