A Lot of Clams: $600k to Rid National Park of Beached Tsunami Dock

Junk from 2011 Japan tsunami washed onto Olympic NP in December

The budget “sequester” may have whacked the National Parks Service pretty hard, but at least there’s some money to spare for an odd bit of cleanup in Washington's Olympic National Park.

A dock swept out to sea by Japan’s devastating March, 2011, tsunami washed up on the protected seashore in December of last year.

The 185-ton, 65-foot-long piece of debris will cost $628,000 to remove, according to the NOAA.  Picking up $478,000 of the tab will “likely” be Japan itself. The NOAA and the Olympic National Park are chipping in $75,000 apiece.

Why is removing this concrete hulk worth the money at a time when sequestration cuts have forced Olympic National Park to cut services to visitors, close at least one campground and cancel plowing of access roads?

The State of Washington Department of Ecology has this answer:

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.

More to this point, the dock carried more than just a hefty price tag. 500 pounds of invasive marine organisms were scraped from the surface, which was then treated with bleach to prevent damage to the fragile, but diverse ecosystem of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Likely debris from tsunami continues to wash ashore in the U.S. and Canada two years later, creating virtual garbage dumps on Alaskan shores. The NOAA has only traced the origin of 21 pieces of flotsam back to Japan, including Olympic’s temporary resident, but has received 1,500 official reports of tsunami debris.

Via The Goat.

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