Tsunami Debris Team Hopes to Intercept Run-Away Dock

September 28, 2012, 11:06 AM HST · Updated September 28, 11:08 AM
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Sept. 18, 2012 – Staff from Ocean Engineering at Makai Pier, Waimanalo tow in a large blue plastic bin seen floating in the ocean between the pier at Manana island. Photo courtesy Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.

By Wendy Osher

State officials have launched a coordinated effort to track and intercept potential tsunami debris in island waters.

Efforts are currently underway to identify the location of a run-away dock that that was last seen on Wednesday, September 19th, by fishermen off the north coast of Molokai.

The 30 by 50 foot floating dock is believed to be identical to three others reported missing from Japan after the March 2011 tsunami.

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State officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources say another one recently came ashore on an Oregon beach earlier this year.

Sept. 18, 2012 – Staff from Ocean Engineering at Makai Pier, Waimanalo tow in a large blue plastic bin seen floating in the ocean between the pier at Manana island. Photo courtesy Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.

DLNR Chair William J. Aila, Jr. said, “DLNR’s priority, with the critical help of the public and federal partners, is to re-find this large floating object, which is a hazard to vessels at sea and the well being of our coastal resources. We need to be able to track its movement to try to intercept and handle the dock at sea, and to prevent serious environmental damage if it should reach shore.”

DLNR, which is the lead agency for tsunami marine debris response in Hawai’i, is working in coordination with NOAA and the US Coast Guard.

Officials are requesting that boaters, fishers and pilots be alert to the possible presence of the dock and to immediately report any sightings of the dock to (808) 587-0400. NOAA is also requesting that sightings of marine debris be reported to [email protected]

According to information released by DLNR, NOAA is assisting with model trajectories for possible movement of the dock by currents and winds.  The agency has reportedly readied two satellite tracking buoys for state use should the dock be located.

Additional tsunami debris reports continue to surface, with the latest being a Molokai resident who spotted Styrofoam along the shoreline cliffs of north Molokai.

Officials at DLNR said they arranged for a Maui helicopter contractor to survey the north shores of Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday afternoon.  Officials say a large quantity of foam pieces were noticed west of Moomomi and a ball of fishing debris, but no sign of the run-away dock.

DLNR also received a report on Wednesday from a Laie resident who had found two large and one smaller black buoy on a local beach. There was no marine growth on them, and the items were found to have normal background levels of radiation, according to the DLNR.

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