Incident: Forks Dock in Olympic National Park

Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting but is subject to change as new information becomes available.


SITE INFORMATION

Date: Dec. 18, 2012 (initial report)

Location:
Olympic National Park
near Forks, Washington
in Clallam County

Dock Specifications:
Size:
20 ft (6 m) wide
65 ft (19.3 m) long
7.5 ft (2.3 m) high

Report Debris:
1-855-WACOAST
(1-855-922-6278)

CONTACTS

For information about removal of the dock, NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA's Marine Debris Program
Keeley Belva
301-713-3066

For information about Olympic National Park
Barb Maynes
360-565-3005

Media Only Contact
for Washington State:
1-855-827-9904

VIDEO CLIPS
(in YouTube)

PHOTO GALLERY
(in Flickr)

NEWS RELEASES

Mar. 28, 2013: Removal of Japanese dock on Olympic Coast completed (NOAA)

Mar. 7, 2013: Olympic National Park Area Surrounding Japanese Dock Closed to All Public Entry

Jan. 17, 2013: Japan says dock beached on Washington coast is one of its own

Dec. 27, 2012: State and federal agencies continue to monitor dock that washed ashore on Olympic National Park coastline

Dec. 21, 2012: Crew reaches beached dock on Olympic National Park shoreline

Dec. 20, 2012: Treacherous conditions turn ground crew back just short of grounded dock on Olympic National Park shore

Dec. 20, 2012: Ground crew expected to set out today for dock that washed ashore in Olympic National Park

Dec. 18, 2012: Aerial search locates missing dock, washed ashore in Olympic National Park

Dec. 16, 2012: Federal, tribal, state, local partners monitor Pacific Ocean for reported debris (U.S. Coast Guard)

Recent Updates

March 18 photo of the dock removal efforts March 28, 2013: Removal of Japanese dock on Olympic Coast completed - 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.

March 21, 2013 - Efforts to dismantle and remove the dock that washed ashore near Mosquito Creek in Olympic National Park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary resumed today. No operations could be conducted Wednesday, March 20 due to high seas and unfavorable, windy weather conditions.

Crews from The Undersea Company of Port Townsend, Wash., anticipate removing the remainder of the Styrofoam that was contained in the dock today, and may begin work to remove some concrete slabs from the site.

Weather conditions did not allow for a large time window on Saturday, March 16, but toward the end of the day the contractor was able to place equipment and safety supplies at the site. Crews were able to work at the site Sunday, March 17 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. They prepared the dock for removal using concrete saws. On Monday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 19, crews worked to remove Styrofoam from the dock and transport the foam material off site.

Crews focused on the Styrofoam first to prevent it from getting distributed in the marine environment. Crews discovered that the dock was “post-tensioned,” meaning cables in the top and bottom are used to tension the dock along its length and place the foam and concrete under pressure. This pressure from post-tensioning makes cutting difficult because transverse cuts bind the saw blade. It also makes foam removal challenging, as the foam is under pressure and must be pried and chiseled out.

By 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, about 60 percent of the foam had been removed and the rest secured on site as poor weather conditions arose. The unfavorable weather persisted through March 20.

It’s estimated that three to five more full days of work to remove concrete are needed, plus an additional day to remove equipment. Work will be conducted as weather and safety conditions permit.

To ensure contractor and visitor safety, the coastal area of Olympic National Park between Goodman Creek and Jefferson Cove is closed to all public entry. 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 the offshore islands.

March 19, 2013 - Work has begun to remove a Japanese dock from where it beached in a remote location of Olympic National Park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

While this location remains closed to ensure safe conditions for workers and park visitors, there are new images of the removal process now available in our Flickr gallery.

This illustration shows how the dock will be dismantled over the next several days.

March 15, 2013 - Dock removal work to begin
Over the weekend, workers will likely 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.

As a reminder, to protect contractor and visitor safety while the salvage work is underway, the coastal area of Olympic National Park between Goodman Creek and Jefferson Cove is closed to all public entry. In addition, 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 the offshore islands.

How will the dock be removed?
Using helicopters, workers will bring equipment to dock’s location on the beach to begin work. Equipment will include a mini excavator, generator, pumps, hand tools and concrete sawing equipment, as well as survival equipment for safety precautions.

Due to winter weather and sea conditions, sand and cobble has surrounded and partially covered the dock. Once the dock is exposed, workers will cut up sections of the dock that can be airlifted out.

The contractor will take care to keep the foam as intact as possible, while disassembling the dock. As the foam is exposed, it will be immediately contained and removed by helicopter. Because of the potential environmental hazards and buoyancy, the foam’s removal from the worksite will take priority.

Work is planned to take place during daylight hours during the next several days depending on safety conditions, weather and tides.

Images can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/sets/72157632473219008/with/8347673378/ 

March 7, 2013 - The Olympic National Park released the following news: Olympic National Park Area Surrounding Japanese Dock Closed to All Public Entry

March 1, 2013 - Dock to be removed from beach this month
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced in a press release that work will begin this month to remove the dock that washed ashore within the boundaries of the Olympic National Park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington. The dock will be dismantled on site and then removed by helicopter. NOAA awarded the contract for the work to The Undersea Company of Port Townsend, which plans to complete the removal by the end of March, weather and tides permitting.

Staff from Olympic National Park, NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and local partners will assist with the removal work.

Jan. 17, 2013 - Japan Confirms dock's origin
The Japanese government has confirmed that the dock was washed into the Pacific Ocean during the March 11, 2011, tsunami. Based on the fender production serial number in a picture, the Japanese government positively identified the dock as coming from Aomori Prefecture. More information is included in today’s news release: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2013/13-01-MDNR.html 

The dock has been positively identified as being one of four from the Port of Misawa. In June 2012, a companion Port of Misawa dock washed ashore near Newport, Ore. Another dock landed on an island in Japan. For more information about these docks, see NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration blog.

Determining the origin of marine debris is challenging. When possible, NOAA works closely with the government of Japan to determine whether an item originated in the tsunami impact zone. To date, 19 items have been definitively traced back to the tsunami, typically by registration number or some other unique marking. This is the fourth confirmed item found in Washington.

In this case, NOAA worked with, and greatly appreciates the assistance from, many Japanese agencies to identify where the dock came from, including:

Jan. 14, 2013 - Additional videos of the dock at Mosquito Creek are now available on Flickr.

Jan. 8, 2013 - Why is it important to remove the dock?
Photo showing styrofoam coming out from behind rebar on the deteriorating dockThe dock is located within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and within a designated wilderness portion of Olympic National Park. Resource protection and visitor safety are fundamental to the mission of both agencies.

The dock weighs about 185 tons and is 65 feet long, 20 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall. Although the dock has stayed in the same general location since its arrival on the beach, it is still quite mobile in the surf. As changing tides and waves continue to shift and move the dock, the dock will continue to batter the coastline, creating a hazard for visitors and wildlife and damaging both the coastal environment and the dock. The intertidal area of the Olympic Coast is home to the most diverse ecosystem of marine invertebrates and seaweeds on the west coast of North America.

Most of the dock’s volume is Styrofoam-type material, which is encased in steel reinforced concrete. The concrete has already been damaged, exposing rebar and releasing foam into the ocean and onto the beach where it can potentially be ingested by fish, birds and marine mammals. Leaving the dock in place could result in the release of over 200 cubic yards of foam into federally protected waters and wilderness coast.

Jan. 7, 2013 (6 PM) - The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park agreed today that the removal of the derelict dock from a remote part of Washington’s pristine coastline located in the Olympic National Park is important to the resource protection goals of both the Sanctuary and the Park.

Officials from the Sanctuary and Park, and the Washington State Governor’s Office, Office of Financial Management, Washington Emergency Management Division and Department of Enterprise Services began exploring removal options by conference call this afternoon.

One outcome of the discussion was that the Sanctuary agreed to be the executive contractor for the removal process.

The Marine Debris Response Task Force said it will be able to provide more detail tomorrow about the need for removing the dock.

     

Previous Updates

Jan. 4, 2013 (7 PM) – A six-member team of staff from the Olympic National Park and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife attached a new NOAA tracking buoy to the dock today and finished removing invasive species from it.

Initial lab results have identified 30-50 plant and animal species on the dock that are not found in the United States but are native to Japan. These include types of marine species such as algae, seaweed, mussels and barnacles.

Today the team removed all the remaining plastic bumpers on the dock and scraped more than 400 pounds of encrusted organic material from the structure. The team also washed the bumpers and the entire outer dock structure with a diluted bleach solution to further decontaminate it.

This method, approved by the National Park Service and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, is considered to be environmentally safe. The organic marine material was placed in an upland area outside the surf zone and the cleaned bumpers were safely secured in a hold inside the dock.

With the invasive species threat addressed, state and federal responders are now turning their attention toward removing the dock from the Olympic National Park.

Work on next steps will resume Monday, Jan. 7.

Jan. 4, 2013: Photos from the Jan. 3 expedition to the Forks dock by six staff from the Olympic National Park, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Sea Grant Program are available in the Washington Marine Debris Task Force photo gallery.

Jan. 3, 2013 (5 PM) – A team of six staff from the Olympic National Park, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Sea Grant Program traversed more than 3 miles of old logging roads, climbed over downed logs, forded a creek and trekked down some of the nation’s most wave-swept shorelines to reach the 65-foot dock today.

While waves and weather have already scoured most of the aquatic plants and animals off the dock’s main body, the team removed 17 of 18 side bumpers on the dock to determine what types of potential invasive species may still be on the structure. The team took samples for laboratory analysis. The bumpers, weighing an estimated 100-150 pounds each, were too heavy for the team to remove from the structure and were left on top of the dock as a temporary measure to prevent more invasive species from escaping into the marine environment.

The team also examined the dock but could not find any identifying labels, marks or writing that could pinpoint its origin.

They will return to the dock tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 4.

Jan. 3, 2013 (1 PM) — It appears the dock has moved slightly – about 50-100 yards from its landing spot north of the Hoh River where responders originally found it Dec. 21, 2012. Staff from Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service will be making an expedition to the dock today and Friday Jan. 4, 2013. The primary goal of the expedition is to further assess and remove any invasive species on the dock.

State and federal responders then will work on making plans to remove the structure from Olympic National Park. Responders also hope to replace the NOAA buoy attached to the dock since the current battery is powering down. A replacement buoy is on the way from Hawaii. It is hoped the replacement buoy can be delivered and put in place on Friday.

Jan. 2, 2013 — The U.S. Coast Guard conducted an overflight on Jan. 1 to assess the condition of the dock that was discovered along a remote section of coast in the Olympic National Park in December. The overflight confirmed that the dock is at the same location and suggested that there has not been significant additional damage to the dock since a response crew inspected it on Dec. 21, 2012. The Dec. 21 crew found that the dock had sustained damage, likely due in part to the rough weather and continued battering of the dock on rocks on the beach.

Representatives from Washington State, the U.S. National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are meeting today to discuss plans for returning to the dock. The Dec. 21 expedition was the only time in December crews were physically able to inspect the dock due to tides and daylight access. The state and federal agencies will determine today when the Incident Command Post can resume operations, based largely on when tides will allow safe access to the dock.

Dec. 31, 2012 — The tracking buoy attached to the Forks dock indicates that it has not moved from its location along a remote section of coast in the Olympic National Park. As of 10 a.m., the most recent transmission from the buoy came Dec 30 at 12:31 Pacific Time. The transmission suggests the dock is at the same location as it was when reached by the response team.

Dec. 28, 2012 — Preliminary test results on plant and animal specimens taken from surfaces on the dock show no radioactive contamination from Fukushima. Additional testing is underway, but experts at the state Department of Health say it’s unlikely that radioactive contamination will be detected.

The Government of Japan did not have enough information to provide positive identification of the dock based on the photos that were submitted for verification purposes. State and federal responders sent additional photos on Dec. 28 that hopefully will facilitate this process.

Background

A large ocean-drifting dock that washed ashore in an extremely rugged and remote section of coast in the Olympic National Park was found Dec. 18 after an extensive helicopter search by the U.S. Coast Guard.

As a precaution, a tracking buoy is attached to the dock, which is suspected to have been set adrift by the March 2011 Japanese tsunami. The buoy transmits its location twice daily via satellite.

State and federal responders are developing a plan for dealing with the dock. No plan can be enacted until January, however, due to tides and daylight access. The Incident Command Post set up to address the dock is standing down until tides will allow safe access.

The section of the park between Goodman Creek and Jefferson Cove, including where the dock washed ashore, remains closed to all public entry. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary regulations also prohibit disturbing wildlife by flying below 2,000 feet within one nautical mile of the coast or offshore islands.

A dangerously swollen stream combined with rough, high seas made reaching the dock difficult. A ground crew representing federal and state agencies had to make two attempts to reach the dock, but a small group of responders was able to reach the dock on Friday, Dec. 21.

Working quickly during December's last daytime low tide, the team thoroughly measured and inspected the dock, collected samples of the marine organisms clinging to it and placed the tracking beacon on it.