ILWACO (AP) — Washington state and federal agencies are trying to determine whether a 20-foot, open boat found beached Friday at a southwest Washington state park is debris from the Japanese tsunami.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has taken information written on the boat and is working with the Japanese consulate in Seattle to determine whether it came from Japan and, if so, whether it might have gone through the 2011 tsunami, Washington state Ecology Department spokesman Curt Hart said.
“Everything we have is very preliminary,” Hart said Friday evening. “It may take into next week” to get answers.
Photos show the boat flipped over on Benson Beach at Cape Disappointment State Park. It’s festooned with hundreds of what state Fish and Wildlife officials told Hart are gooseneck barnacles, typical of time in the open ocean.
No oil or hazardous materials have been seen, Hart said. However, Ecology spill responders will assess whether the boat poses any immediate environmental hazards.
Officials are warning the public to stay clear, just in case the boat might harbor any invasive plant or animal species. State fish and wildlife personnel will work on that assessment, the spokesman said.
Thousands of people are flocking to see a Japanese dock that was torn loose by the March 11, 2011, tsunami and ended up on an Oregon beach.
Officials plan to be at the Washington beach this weekend to learn more about the boat, which looks like a shallow rowboat.
In addition to NOAA, the state departments of Ecology, Health and Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Military Emergency Management Division and the state Parks and Recreation Commission are working on the boat assessment and response.
Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced that she and other state officials plan a Monday news conference at Ocean Shores to explain how the state will respond to Washington coastal debris from the tsunami.
Widely scattered tsunami debris has been arriving intermittently along Pacific Northwest shorelines. The state Health Department has said it believes it is highly unlikely any arriving tsunami debris is radioactive.