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Oregon town to save piece of tsunami dock as memorial

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    This photo taken Wednesday, June 6, 2012 and supplied by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, shows a large dock that washed ashore early Tuesday on Agate Beach, a mile north of Newport, Ore. The nearly 70-foot-long dock was torn loose from a fishing port in northern Japan by last year's tsunami and drifted across thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean, a Japanese Consulate official said Wednesday.(AP Photo/Oregon Parks and Recreation)
  • 2012 and supplied by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation
  • June 6
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NEWPORT, Ore. >> Work will start Monday on Agate Beach near Newport on removing a 66-foot dock that washed ashore last month as one of the biggest pieces of debris from the Japanese tsunami.

Workers with Ballard Diving and Salvage of Vancouver plan to cut the 132-ton dock in pieces and truck them to a facility in Sherwood.

The Oregonian reports  the city of Newport plans to save one large piece of the dock for a memorial to be displayed at the Marine Science Center.

Since it washed ashore June 5, the dock has attracted record numbers of visitors from all over the country who want to touch it and take photos. Oregon Parks and Recreation counted about 73,000 cars in June and July at Agate Beach State Park.

“Most of our business members are reporting more business, more traffic through doors, more people eating, more staying,” said Lorna Davis, executive director of the Newport Chamber of Commerce. “All things would point that it has been good for Newport, good for business. People are walking in or calling or e-mailing us, inquiring about the dock. ‘Is it still there?’ ‘How far is it?’ ‘Can we walk to it?’ ‘Where can we stay?’ Where can we eat?’ ‘What else is there to do while we’re there?'”

The Japanese government estimates that 1.5 million tons of debris is floating in the ocean from the catastrophe. Some experts in the United States think the bulk of that trash will never reach shore, while others fear a massive, slowly unfolding environmental disaster.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects the debris having spread over an area roughly three times the size of the contiguous United States, but can’t pinpoint when or how much might eventually reach the coasts of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii.

Contractors will get to work on Monday and expect to erect a safety fence two days later.

The plan calls for workers to build a road out to the dock, cut it in five pieces and load the pieces onto trucks and haul them to a facility in Sherwood.

The seven-foot piece that Newport gets to keep will serve as a reminder of the tsunami and its impact.

“We really need to let people know it’s not going to go away and forever be forgotten,” said Newport Mayor Mark McConnell. “There is going to be something here to memorialize and for people to remember and learn from. I think it’s important for people to know.”

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