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Dock Confirmed As Tsunami Debris; Salvage Bids Requested

National Park Service

A dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month is now confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. This news comes just as the federal government requests bids from salvage companies to get rid of the huge hulk.

The 65-foot-long hollow concrete dock was suspected to be Japanese tsunami debris from the start. But it took some detective work to definitively prove it. The breakthrough came when a marine debris response team member found a serial number on a rubber fender. The Japanese government traced that number to a tsunami-ravaged fishing port, the same one where another dock remnant that landed in Oregon came from.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries spokeswoman Keeley Belva says the next step is to solicit bids to remove this hulk from an Olympic National Park beach.

"Part of what we're hoping to find out by consulting professionals who do this is what their idea or best method would be to do this."

Belva says initial ideas to get rid of the dock include towing it back out to sea or dismantling it on shore and lifting the pieces out by helicopter. Neither promises to be cheap or easy due to the remoteness of the wilderness location.

NOAA has set a January 22 deadline for marine salvage contractors to submit proposals with a firm price tag.

On the Web:

Forks Dock in Olympic National Park (Washington Department of Ecology)
Japan Tsunami Marine Debris (NOAA)

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.