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Friday, June 15, 2012

Tsunami Trash Triggers Tourism
AGATE, OR (IRIS) -- A massive dock that was torn from the shores of Japan in a massive tsunami has washed up on the quiet beach near Newport Oregon, drawing hundreds of tourists every day from far away and inspiring thought among them. DockTourists.JPG

"It is seeing that little piece of Japanese tragedy show up in a random place a year later, a place where life is relatively good," said Shelly Kime of Portland. She didn't really want to come out, but her parents from Preston, Idaho really did. This dock has made international news and sparked deep curiosity in some parts of the nation. Kime's mom wanted to see it so badly, the 70-year-old walked a mile through the sand with a bad knee and blind in one eye to take a look at it.    

"I think she is just fascinated by something that made it all the way across the ocean," Kime said. Her father wondered if the thing rolled all the way across the bottom of the ocean. In fact it floated and by the stains and rust on it, you can see how one side of the dock was submerged, while another part was above water.

It is much less interesting than it once was now that it has been scraped clean under worries that it was carrying invasive species. Now, the worry is that it could float back out to sea and become a 240 kiloton navigation hazard, a floating concrete iceberg if you will. Now, the parks service is taking bids on demolishing it.

"I think the Japanese should pay to clean it up," Kime recalled what her dad said. "I said, nice dad, way to ad insult to injury."

That private debate is a common one however and likely to become more public as the parks service here in Oregon and the National Parks Service anticipate that this is the first of a literal tsunami of trash that will continue to wash up on shores here.

DockTour.JPG

"Well, we are a global village," said Mary Hansen of Chicago." We are going to have to establish a court to try to decide how to deal with these things. It is a tourist attraction now, but it will be an eyesore later." 

She came out to Oregon to watch her brother graduate and stumbled across the wreckage.

"Hey, there is that international sensation," said her brother Sid Stetson when he saw it. "Looking at it makes me think of the people. It is sobering."

Despite the horrors of the past and the debate over the future clean up of trash like this, there could be long-term effects.

Staring at the dock, Mary Hansen had a scary thought. "There was some kind of sea slime in it that could take over."

Sea life specimens that were carried on the dock across the sea have been taken to the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The impact of those specimens also being carried on other trash are also the subject of speculation and science.

DockModel.JPG

For now, a little plaque and the rubber wheels provide a little more detail of its origins. It says the dock is a model FRR-2LA (250 kN). That is the model and the kN stands for Kilonewtons, usually the force that a fastener can handle. Writing in English on the rubber wheels confirm at least some of it is made by a company called Shibata headquartered in Japan. The model number on the plaque also corresponds to a Shbata product. According to its product brochure, it is a multi-billion dollar company with hundreds of employees. You can read more about the specs of the dock and the company in an on-line PDF I found.

Pictures will be posted soon. Now, what do you think should be done with it and other tsunami trash? What do you think will be the long-term consequences on American shores if any? 

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Nation's First Cold War Memorial Groundbreaking & Book Signing

The Forest Service members of the CIA and workers from Area 51 were at Mt. Charleston outside Las Vegas for the groundbreaking of the nation's first Cold War Memorial on Saturday, November 17. This will enhance the regions international recognition for its role in America's victory in the Cold War. The Atomic Testing museum with its hands-on exhibits, the atomic test site with its bomb-ravaged structures and now the cold war memorial honoring America's heroes who lost their lives in America's longest war. Vistors can get a signed first-edition copy of Silent Heroes of the Cold War (Stephen's Press 2008) and learn more at this first public event on a multi-million dollar Forest Service project in the area.

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