Photo by Jeff Wunderlich
Photo by Jeff Wunderlich

Tsunami Dock Removal, Forks, Wash.

Part of a worldwide effort to clean up debris caused by Japan's 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the removal of this 185-ton dock from the Washington coastline required extreme planning and sequencing.

The 65-ft-long, 20-ft-wide section of dock had washed ashore about ¼ mile south of where Mosquito Creek meets the Pacific Ocean in the Olympic National Park and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The dock contained about 200 cu yd of Styrofoam-type material, which was being released into the ocean and onto the beach, posing a risk of being ingested by fish, birds and marine mammals. As a result, the Olympic Gold Coast National Sanctuary and Olympic National Park needed the dock removed to comply with resource protection goals that are in place for federally regulated lands and water.

Because of the dock's remote location, there were only two feasible ways to access the location—hiking for about 6 to 8 miles on foot or flying. Taking into account the amount and type of equipment needed to perform the project, the team chose going by air. The job took three types of helicopters for carrying crews and equipment.

Work, which involved cutting the dock into 3,500-lb sections, was scheduled around low tide, and the weather was closely monitored to ensure that the helicopters would be able to fly. The project was completed on budget and in just three months.

One judge said it was "a tough project to pull off." Another said the team "did a good job in a unique situation."

Key Players

Owner/Developer NOAA

General Contractor The Undersea Co.

Transportation and Hauling Columbia Helicopters, Northwest Helicopters

Insurance and Bonding Lockton Insurance Brokers LLC

Consumables NCM Warehouse Supply