Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Updates
Removal of Japanese dock on Olympic Coast completed
MARCH 27 - A 185-ton dock that washed out to sea during the March 2011 tsunami in Japan has now been removed from Washington's Olympic Coast. As of today, crews from The Undersea Company of Port Townsend, Wash., removed the last of the dock's concrete and plastic foam from the beach and the inland landing site. Read more.
Dock removal work to begin
MARCH 18 - Over the weekend, workers begin staging equipment and dismantling the dock that came ashore on the Olympic peninsula this past December. The dock was washed out to sea during the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.
The Undersea Company of Port Townsend, Wash., is working with Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park, as well as local partners in Washington, to dismantle the dock on site. Smaller sections of the dock will then be airlifted to an upland landing zone that is located on private land, and then they will be trucked offsite for disposal. This was determined to be the safest and most efficient method for removal in light of concern that the dock is no longer seaworthy. Read more.
Olympic National Park Area Surrounding Japanese Dock Closed to All Public Entry
MARCH 7 - To protect contractor and visitor safety, the coastal area of Olympic National Park between Goodman Creek and Jefferson Cove is closed to all public entry. This closure will allow the Undersea Company of Port Townsend, Washington to safely complete work to remove the 185-ton dock that grounded near Mosquito Creek last December.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary regulations prohibit aircraft from disturbing wildlife by flying below 2,000 feet within one nautical mile of the coast or offshore islands.
The dock’s location lies within the boundaries of both the park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The contractors will use concrete saws and heavy equipment to cut the dock into sections and a heavy-lift helicopter to move the sections off the beach to an inland staging area.
“Human safety is our top priority,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Moving heavy loads with large helicopters is inherently risky and to protect both visitors and employees, the area will remain closed until the dock is completely removed.”
The contractor plans to complete removal efforts by early April, depending on weather and tidal conditions.
Japanese dock to be removed from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park
MARCH 1 - Officials will begin work to remove a dock that beached on a remote shore within the boundaries of both Olympic National Park and NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in December 2012. NOAA has contracted The Undersea Company of Port Townsend, Wash., to lead the removal. The contractor plans to complete removal efforts by the end of March, depending on weather and tidal conditions. Read more.
- February 2013
Buoy found off of Kauai is confirmed tsunami debris
FEBRUARY 5 - The Consulate of Japan has confirmed that a large, yellow buoy found off the coast of Kauai, on January 18, is debris from the March 2011 tsunami that struck Japan. This is the 6th confirmed debris item for Hawaii and the 21st overall.
The buoy belonged to Tohoku Region Development Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport used during construction of a new seawall inside the Onahama Ports and Harbors before the tsunami. MLIT has indicated they do not want the buoy returned.
- January 2013
RFP for Emergency Salvage Dock Removal
JANUARY 17 - NOAA has announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit proposals from professional marine salvage contractors. Information can be found at: https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DOC/NOAA/WASC/AB133C-13-RP-0144/listing.html. The deadline for submitting proposals is Jan 22, 2013 2:00 pm Pacific.
- December 2012
Team continues to monitor dock grounded in Olympic National Park
DECEMBER 31 - "State responders are developing a plan for dealing with a dock that washed ashore in Olympic National Park earlie this month. No plan can be enacted until January, however, due to tides and daylight access. The Incident Command Post set up to address the dock stood down over the weekend and will resume operations when tides allow safe access to the dock.
Meanwhile, as a precaution, a tracking buoy is attached to the dock. The buoy transmits its location twice daily via satellite. The location coordinates have not changed, indicating the dock has not moved since visited by a response team." Read more.
Ground crew sets out to assess dock
DECEMBER 20 - A ground crew representing federal, state and tribal agencies set out today for a large dock that washed ashore from the ocean in a rugged section of the Olympic National Park / Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary shoreline. Read more.
Large dock washes ashore in Washington State
DECEMBER 19 - An extensive helicopter search by the U.S. Coast Guard paid off Tuesday when a crew located a large ocean-drifting dock washed ashore in an extremely rugged and remote section of coast in the Olympic National Park. Read more.
Government of Japan gifts U.S. $5 million to address tsunami debris
DECEMBER 3 - The funds, given through NOAA's Marine Debris Program, will be used to support response efforts, such as removal of tsunami marine debris, disposal fees, cleanup supplies, detection and monitoring. NOAA anticipates distributing funds to affected regions as the they are received from Japan and will work to determine immediate needs and future applications. Read more.
- November 2012
New piece of tsunami debris washes up on Midway Atoll
NOVEMBER 27 - Officials have confirmed that a small boat found on Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument on November 2 is debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami. The Government of Japan located the boat's owners, who indicated they do not want it returned. Take a look at NOAA's new map showing details on "confirmed" tsunami debris.
- October 2012
Harley-Davidson motorcycle debuts at museum
OCTOBER 24 - A motorcycle that washed ashore in British Columbia last April after crossing the Pacific Ocean in a foam-lined container has a new home: the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. The motorcycle, which was lost during the tsunami, will go on display today, according to Milwaukee news station CBS-58.
Invasive species protocols now available
OCTOBER 24 - New protocols that will help guide local responses to invasive species risks from tsunami debris are now available. The document was drafted by a team of federal, state, and local agencies and academia after a 66-foot dock washed ashore in Oregon with several invasive species attached to its surface. Download the protocols.
More tsunami debris arrives in Hawaii
OCTOBER 8 - Another piece of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, a 20-by-6-foot skiff, has made its way to Hawaii –this time on board a fisherman’s vessel. The Zephyr, a longline fishing vessel, discovered the 20-by-6-foot skiff approximately 700 nautical miles northeast of Maui and reported it to the U.S. Coast Guard on September 29. After cleaning the aquatic species from its hull, the crew took it aboard and arrived with it in Honolulu Harbor the morning of October 5. Read more.
Beer crate in Hawaii is likely not tsunami debris
OCTOBER 2 - Officials in Hawaii will not take additional action on an Asahi beer crate that washed ashore in O'ahu on Sunday, after inspecting it for invasive species. Carey Morishige, the NOAA Marine Debris Program's Hawaii coordinator, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that these types of crates were commonplace marine debris before the tsunami. Read more.
No new Hawaii dock sightings
OCTOBER 2 - The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the state's lead agency for responding to reported possible Japan tsunami marine debris in Hawaii, is coordinating with NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to identify the current location of a 30 by 50-foot floating dock that was last seen on Wednesday, Sept. 19, by fishermen off the north coast of
Molokai. Read more.
Dock reportedly floating near Hawaii
SEPTEMBER 25 - A large concrete dock, similar to one that washed ashore in Oregon last June, is reportedly floating near the Main Hawaiian Islands. The dock was first reported to a local media station by fishermen, but there have been no additional sightings since last week. According to Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources:
"DLNR is working with its federal partners to locate and track the floating dock last reported north of Molokai. The Department is considering all of our options for handling of the dock and working on contingency plans in coordination with other agencies, to protect marine resources and prevent its arrival in nearshore areas.
We invite fishers and boaters or pilots to contact DLNR main administrative numbers at (808) 587-0400 to report timely sightings and locations. If it is after hours they should leave a detailed message of the location, GPS if available, description of debris, and their contact information (optional) so staff can follow up with further questions if needed.
We are working to set-up a specific number for tsunami debris but for now people can call the main line (808) 587-0400 and the information will be forwarded to the correct staff depending on the area."
First piece of tsunami debris arrives in Hawaii
SEPTEMBER 24 - A large blue plastic storage bin found floating off the coast of O'ahu is Hawaii's first piece of confirmed tsunami debris, according to officials there. The bin, which had non-invasive marine organisms attached to it, was cleaned and checked for radiation. Read more
- August 2012
Recap: NOAA meets with Japanese modelers
JULY 25 - Last month, the NOAA Marine Debris Program hosted a meeting with a Japanese delegation led by modelers from Kyoto University, as well as scientists and policy staff from Japan and the Japanese Embassy in Washington, DC. This meeting was an opportunity to share information on efforts, outputs and future plans for modeling the fate and movement of tsunami marine debris. NOAA and Kyoto University staff presented information on ongoing hindcast and forecast efforts, as well as detection and sightings information that is being gathered to inform current efforts.
States establish debris reporting lines
JULY 23 - Did you know Washington and Oregon states now have reporting lines for marine debris? In Washington State, people who call 1-855-WACOAST (or 1-855-922-6278) can: Report oil, hazardous items, floating debris items that might pose a boating or navigation hazard, or get instructions for reporting debris that is not large or hazardous. To report hazardous debris or a hazard to navigation in Oregon, call 211 (or 1-800-SAFENET).
Japanese hazmat handbook now in English
JULY 12 - The Government of Japan has translated its hazardous marine debris handbook into English so that beachgoers can see what hazardous materials from Japan look like, in the event it washes up on U.S. shores. Download the handbook. (2,279kb).
Debris disposal stations set up on Oregon coast
JULY 11 - Dozens of marine debris disposal stations are set up on the Oregon coast, according to the state. Beach cleaners can bring bags of debris to the stations, as well as larger items that may appear, such as appliances. Read more.
Small boat in WA confirmed to be debris from Japan
JUNE 20 - NOAA and its state partners have confirmed that a 20-foot fiberglass boat found in Cape Disappointment, WA is debris from the Japan tsunami. After the boat washed up on the beach, the Washington state departments worked together to ensure the boat did not pose a risk to public health and safety or the environment. Tests for radioactivity came back normal. Read more.
Looking for marine debris from the sky
JUNE 18 - This week, NOAA researchers will launch a Puma Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to determine whether it can detect marine debris off the coast of O'ahu. The test is one of NOAA’s efforts to identify effective technologies for locating marine debris at sea—including debris from the Japan tsunami. Read more.
Tsunami debris survey begins in AK
JUNE 18 - A team of five NOAA scientists have kicked off the first NOAA-led survey of Southeast Alaska beaches for Japan tsunami debris, leaving from Ketchikan Friday aboard the charter vessel Sumdum. “We doubt that the peak of tsunami debris has arrived, so this is a preliminary assessment to get an idea of the scope of what is arriving here right now,” said NOAA’s Jeep Rice from the Auke Bay Lab in Juneau. “This scouting trip will help inform future cleanup efforts." Read more.
Small boat washes up in WA, agencies responding
JUNE 18 - NOAA and Washington State agencies are coordinating to assess a 20-foot boat that washed up in Cape Disappointment State Park. Responders are currently determining the boat's origin and removing marine species attached to it. Read more.
Officials considering dock removal options
JUNE 13 - The Oregon State Department of Parks and Recreation has closed bids for removing a 66-foot pier that washed up on Agate Beach in Newport, OR in early June 2012. The pier was lost during the Japan tsunami. For the latest pier updates, visit Oregon Parks and Recreation News.
Oregon contingency planning underway
A partnership of agencies and nonprofits are working with coordination help from Oregon Emergency Management to prepare for any increase in beach debris. The agencies, including NOAA, met on Tuesday, 5/29 to discuss agency roles and will continue meeting to develop contingency plans.
NOAA shoreline monitoring begins on West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii
The NOAA Marine Debris Program has developed shoreline survey protocols for assessing the abundance and types of debris at shoreline monitoring sites. We are working with various partners to implement these protocols along the west coast and in Alaska and Hawaii to establish baseline debris densities and monitor for potential changes in debris composition and abundances due to Japan tsunami debris.