70ft of dock ripped from a fishing port in Japan during the earthquake and tsunami has washed up on an Oregon beach.
The origin of the huge dock was today confirmed by the Japanese consulate in Portland, Oregon.
A commemorative plaque on the dock, which has drifted thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, showed that it was one of four owned by Aomori Prefecture (state).
Starfish that are native to Japan were also found still clinging to the well-travelled structure.
Deputy Consul Hirofumi Murabayashi said from Portland,
“We were able to confirm from Aomori Prefecture that they don't wish to have it returned,” he said. “About the other three, of course, we have no idea where they are floating, or if they are sunk somewhere.”
The dock has been checked for radiation, but came up negative.
It was first spotted floating off the coast of Oregon on Monday, and washed ashore on Agate Beach during a storm at around 3am Tuesday morning.
Tom Cleveland, a housekeeping supervisor at nearby beach front condominiums, said the dock had been drawing crowds of people curious to see it and had been jamming up traffic at the beach car park.
“Everybody and their brother has been here looking at it and checking it out,” he said. “Obviously, we knew things would be coming our way but I didn't expect anything this size.”
The parks department is now overseeing the efforts to identify and move the dock.
The placard on the dock dates from 2008 and names 'Zeniya Ocean Service Engineering' which builds floating marine structures and docks.
Examples of the tsunami debris have been arriving on North America's shores, but the bulk of the tsunami wash-up is not expected to arrive until Winter.
So far items from the tsunami that have washed up have included a football in Alaska and a shipping container with a Harley Davidson in it (with a Japanese licence plate) which washed up in British Columbia.
It is estimated that five million tons of debris were washed out to sea by the tsunami, but that most of it sank.
“This is the first object that has washed up that was unique enough to confirm that it was, indeed, from the tsunami,” Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, said yesterday.
Mr Havel confirmed that the department would be responsible for removing the dock.