Work began Wednesday to dismantle the giant Japanese dock that washed ashore in Oregon earlier this year.

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With a crowd of spectators lounging in lawn chairs and snapping photos, workers on Wednesday started cutting up the boxcar-sized Japanese dock that was torn away from a fishing port by last year’s tsunami and washed up on an Oregon beach.

The plan was to cut the 165-ton concrete dock into five slices, like a loaf of bread, using a piece of equipment called a wire saw. If all goes well, the work should be finished by Thursday, leaving nothing but a depression in the sand until the ocean waves fill the beach back in again.

“We really are trying to keep in mind that this came from a massive disaster in Japan and try to treat it with the respect it deserves,” Scott Korab, director of business development for Ballard Diving and Salvage of Vancouver, Wash., said over the low rumble of the wire saw and the roar of the wind.

“We are trying to complete the job in a safe and timely manner, and make sure we are giving the public all the time they need to get some last photos of everything as well,” he said.

The pieces will be lifted by a crane onto flatbed trucks. The trucks drive over the soft sand on a temporary roadway of planks and steel plates. Biologists will check the bottom of each slice of the dock for invasive species. The pieces, one to a truck, will be driven to the Portland suburb of Sherwood for dismantling.

The dock washed ashore on Agate Beach north of Newport, Ore., on June 5.

An 11-foot piece bearing a mural of blue waves that mysteriously appeared on the dock in the past week will be cut off and returned to Newport for use in a memorial to be erected somewhere yet to be determined, Korab said.