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Help Needed Picking Up Plastics at N. Oregon Coast's Short Sand / Stranded Platform

Published 12/18/22 at 5:35 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Help Needed Picking Up Plastics at N. Oregon Coast's Short Sand / Stranded Platform

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – One north Oregon coast beach still has a load of plastics that need to removed, after part of a giant metal platform washed up in early November that contained them. The Oregon environmental volunteer group CoastWatch is hoping more people will help out. (Photo above courtesy John Morris / CoastWatch: plastic chunk at Short Sand with the platform in the background)

Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park is still littered with the stuff, according to CoastWatch's volunteer coordinator Jesse Jones. As Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) works on slowly removing the giant, crusty metal platform, which is dropping the bits of plastics somehow, CoastWatch just put out another call for the public to come out and pick up the pieces.

It's not a planned cleanup event like some that are put together by SOLVE or Surfrider Foundation. Instead, this is a call for people – especially other CoastWatch members – who may be visiting to help out when they can. It's an informal, open invitation.

Photo above Oregon Coast Beach Connection

“If you can, bring your trash bags to the beach, and if you cannot haul them away, be sure they are tied securely and placed near the cans at the beach,” Jones said. “Please let us know if there are full bags that need to be removed. Please do not touch the metal platform, it may be rusty and sharp.”

You can contact her at or 503-989-7244.

The plastic chunks are near the platform but not right at the stranding site.

The photo above shows how you can efficiently remove the largest foam chunks, then use a tarp to catch the smaller pieces. (John Morris / CoastWatch)

Earlier this month, Jones told Oregon Coast Beach Connection these chunks of plastic are definitely something we don't want to see entering the ocean.

“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.”

The platform itself is causing enough of a problem, although OPRD is slowly chipping away at it. The pathways down to Short Sand are too narrow to allow for large equipment that would normally be used to remove such a heap of metal (it's approximately 8x15 feet). A similar piece of metallic work platform washed up earlier this season in Rockaway Beach, and that was easy to get to and remove.

This piece, according to OPRD, has to slowly be dismantled and taken away in pieces.

Jones said it's very unlikely this was tsunami debris from Japan left over from 11 years ago. It had not been in the ocean that long. The work platform is rather old, but clearly comes from a dock or an offshore rig of some sort – CoastWatch and OPRD are in agreement on that. No one knows what location it's from however, providing a bit of a mystery on the north Oregon coast.

Plastics at the scene, photo courtesy John Morris / CoastWatch

The plastic foam coming from it is known as expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam and is commonly used on underwater objects like these as well as pools. Jones said it's not uncommon for the highest tides of the year to tear out some chunk of a dock somewhere distant and then heave it up on these beaches, along with the harmful debris that may accompany these events.

“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. MORE PHOTOS OF THE PLATFORM BELOW

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Photo John Morris / CoastWatch

Photo Seaside Aquarium: years ago a giant whale skeleton emerged from lower sand levels at Short Beach

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