NEWPORT, Ore. — A little more than a year ago a devastating tsunami hit Japan and destroyed towns, homes and lives. Now, evidence of the destruction is washing up on Oregon shores.
A dock, confirmed to be from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan, washed up on Agate Beach just north of Newport.
“Well, I’m quite impressed, I didn’t think something that size would make it this far to the Oregon beach,” said Visitor Victor Slaughter.
Impressive isn’t an understatement. The seven foot tall, 19 foot wide and 66 foot long dock washed ashore early Tuesday morning.
It’s made primarily of concrete, but is hollow and designed to float.
“It’s basically a big building block with an airspace on the inside so that it can float,” said Chris Havel with the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department.
Since the dock had evidence of marine life specific to Japan, and Japanese markings, it was immediately checked for radiation. Those tests came out negative.
“We’ve been told by NOAA that none of the debris that’s been coming across has been found to be radioactive, that that’s highly unlikely, but we want to make sure people’s minds are put at rest, so we always check,” Havel said.
However, there is still some concern about potential invasive species exposure. Crews are working to contain that threat.
“You don’t know what’s going to find this to be a happy place to live, but we don’t want to take that chance,” Havel said.
The Japanese consulate examined a metal plaque attached to the dock, confirming that the dock is debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. That makes it the first confirmed debris to hit the Oregon coast.
“I was wondering when the first day something from Japan would be here to this coast,” Slaughter said.
Visitors were shocked to hear how far it traveled.
“It’s so big, and it’s hard to imagine this coming through the ocean,” said Hillary Thompson.
“Kind of a neat thing that it’s traveled as far as it has,” said Debra Bachmeier.
“Just that it traveled so far, that is amazing, and to think it was tsunami related, that just makes me sad,” said Pam Crow.
Oregon Parks and Rec crews are still deciding on what to do with the dock. They’ll either wait for the tide to rise and pull it out to sea to salvage it, or they’ll demolish it onshore.