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Dock becomes largest tsunami debris to arrive from Japan

A nearly 70-foot-long dock floated onto an Oregon beach after being torn loose from a fishing port in Japan after the tsunami. Mark Hanrahan reports from NBC's Portland, Ore., affiliate.

A large dock that floated onto an Oregon beach is debris from last year's tsunami in Japan, Japan's consulate in Portland said Wednesday.

The 66-foot-long dock, which had been in use in an area hit by the March 2011 tsunami, is the largest piece of debris discovered on North America's shores so far. 

"It’s one of four floating docks washed away by the tsunami, which means there are three more floating somewhere possibly," OregonLive.com quoted Deputy Consul General Hirofumi Murabayashi as saying.

A check for any radiation from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant came up negative, said Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation spokesman Chris Havel.

The department  is overseeing efforts to remove the dock but hasn't decided yet whether to demolish it on site or have it towed off. "You can't preplan for stuff like this," Havel told msnbc.com.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept

This Japanese dock washed ashore on an Oregon beach Tuesday.

A starfish native to Japan was found clutching to the structure, Havel said, adding that another concern is to keep out any nonnative species that might have hitched a ride on the dock.

The dock, which is 19 feet wide and 7 feet high, washed ashore Tuesday on Agate Beach, a mile north of Newport in central Oregon.

Small groups had already gathered to see the dock and state police were posted to keep people from climbing on it. 

"I think that's going to change to large crowds," Havel said.

Some tsunami debris has begun arriving in recent weeks, including a soccer ball that washed up in Alaska and a shipping container holding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with Japanese license plates that turned up in British Columbia. 

Debris continues to cross the Pacific, this time from a middle school destroyed by the tsunami. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Most debris is not expected until winter.

Anyone finding debris thought to be from the tsunami is advised to report it to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. 

Buoys, bottles and cans believed to be from the Japan tsunami are surfacing in Washington State, Alaska and British Columbia, and scientists say the mess will be there for generations. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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