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Mystery Metal Platform Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast, Volunteers Needed

Published 12/07/22 at 5:59 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Mystery Metal Platform Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast, Volunteers Needed

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – Short Sand Beach, near Manzanita on the north Oregon coast, has a new and puzzling visitor. It's also a bit of a messy one. (Photos of platform and debris at Short Sand courtesy CoastWatch / John Morris)

About a month ago, a large, metal platform washed up on this popular beach and has been stuck there ever since. Where it's from seems to be absolutely unknown, but officials from Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and environmental groups like CoastWatch agree it's a kind of work platform, likely from a sea rig of some sort.

The object itself is huge, but removing it is proving a gigantic problem. According to OPRD and CoastWatch, removal crews are literally between a rock and a hard place on this one.

Mystery Metal Platform Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast, Volunteers Needed
Photo of Short Sand, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

“If you've recently visited Short Sand Beach at Oswald State Park, you've likely noticed the giant metal work platform that has washed up,” said CoastWatch volunteer coordinator Jesse Jones. “OPRD is aware of the situation and working on a solution to remove it. The debris is made of thick steel and is difficult to reach with any equipment, so they have been removing it in pieces slowly.”

Jones told Oregon Coast Beach Connection that “it's huge,” approximately 8 feet by 15 feet, by her estimation.

“It's like a shipwreck,” she said.

OPRD ranger Bo Ensign, with the Nehalem Bay office, told Oregon Coast Beach Connection they're still working on ways to get rid of it, but with no access for heavy equipment and this being so large and weighty, they have to get creative here.

Apparently, another similar structure washed up in Rockaway Beach in recent months.

“That was a much easier location, and it was removed pretty quickly by Coastal Towing and Salvage,” Ensign said. “The most likely scenario is that Park Staff will have to cut up and remove the structure piece by piece, which will take quite some time.”

Jones said rangers have been removing some pieces here and there, but it's unknown how.

Both OPRD and CoastWatch urge the public to stay away from the structure. It can prove quite dangerous.


Plastics at Short Sand, courtesy Jesse Jones

However, there is a problem with plastic foam that seems to be connected to the platform, quite likely coming from it. CoastWatch is asking its own volunteers for help removing the plastic, which has settled in a spot away from the structure itself. Jones said if anyone from the public wants to help take away these environmentally-problematic plastic bits they can contact her at jesse@oregonshores.org or 503-989-7244.

Jones did not think this came from tsunami debris from Japan: there were not many barnacles on it, which would be a sign it had wandered the ocean for awhile. That debris flow stopped years ago. The object does, however, look old, so the origin remains a mystery.

Jones said plastic like this is commonly used in docks or dock-like structures. It's called expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam.

“The highest tides of year often dislodge these and cast them into the sea, onto our beaches and into our estuaries all along our coast,” Jones said. “Foam, and the foam associated with work platforms, swim platforms and docks contribute significantly to EPS pollution.”

It's that pollution they're worried about here, and that's why CoastWatch is hoping to get rid of this stuff that keeps emerging at Short Sand.

“Foam, as a plastic, sucks up, holds and transports chemical pollutants from the water, becoming an agent of toxicity,” she said. “It breaks up into microplastics which are swallowed by marine mammals, birds and fish and makes its way into the digestion systems of invertebrates - the animals living in the rocky intertidal.”

There's a right way to get rid of these annoying bits threatening the Oregon coast.

Jones said you should put them in a bag you can tie up, and do so tightly so that smaller pieces can't fall out. Those smaller ones are harder to pick up, but it's needed.

“Every piece that makes it into a bag and stays there is one less piece that can cause harm to that sea anemone, that baby bird, that jellyfish,” Jones said.

Larger pieces, if set aside and OPRD is alerted, will be removed by them. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Plastics at Short Sand, courtesy Jesse Jones

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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