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Massive dock washes ashore on national park beach

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 19, 2012
The ocean-drifting dock washed ashore on a remote section of coast in Olympic National Park in Washington state.
The ocean-drifting dock washed ashore on a remote section of coast in Olympic National Park in Washington state.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dock lands on Olympic National Park beach in Washington state
  • Park Service closes beach as crews try to reach remote site
  • Large dock from Japan also washed up in Oregon this year

(CNN) -- A massive dock, possibly debris from the March 2011 tsunami that struck Japan, has washed ashore in Washington state's Olympic National Park.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted the dock Tuesday along a remote section of the park's coast, the Washington State Marine Debris Task Force said.

Authorities were trying to reach the dock by ground Wednesday to determine whether it was tsunami debris and whether it harbors invasive species that could harm the area.

The National Park Service has closed the beach in the area to the public.

The Coast Guard had been searching for the dock since Friday, when a fishing vessel spotted it adrift in the ocean.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire thanked the Coast Guard for finding the dock.

"They were out in challenging conditions looking for a needle in a haystack, and they found it," she said in a statement.

If the dock is confirmed as tsunami debris, it would be the second to wash ashore in the Pacific Northwest this year.

In June, a 66-foot-long dock turned up near Agate Beach, Oregon.

In September, a 50-foot-long dock was spotted off the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Molokai.

Alaska has seen much debris from the tsunami wash up on its beaches this year.

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