ILWACO, WA - Pieces of a boat with Japanese writing on them have been found on the shore of Washington's coast. The local Sheriff warns, "I think this is just the first of what we are going to start seeing."
The State Department of Ecology is warning people to stay away from the debris.
"The state departments of Ecology, Health, Fish and Wildlife, Military Emergency Management Division and Washington Parks and Recreation Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working together to better assess the boat’s origin and take coordination action to protect public health, safety and the environment," the agencies said in a news release.
The boat pieces appeared Friday on Benson Beach near Ilwaco, said the Pacific County Sheriff's Office.
The pieces are some type of a motor, a possible bridge and a superstructure.
It's not yet known whether it the wreckage is specifically from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.
Still onlookers Friday night figured it had been swept away during the killer wave which followed the massive earthquake. "It is haunting just knowing like people over there had all this stuff, and like that happened to them, and now it is over here," one woman said.
NOAA is working with the Japanese consulate in Seattle to find out if the boat came from Japan and locate the owner.
On Saturday, the Department of Ecology said the Department of Health had conducted tests for any radiation threats and those tests came back normal.
Also, the Department of Fish and Wildlife cleaned the hull of the vessel and turned it upright. It was towed to a maintenance yard off the beach where it continues to be clean and samples continue to be taken.
The testing is for invasive species and other precautionary concerns. Most of what was found on the vessel is Gooseneck Barnalces, which are usually found in the deep ocean. There was also a life vest found on the vessel with Japanese writing.
If the vessel is confirmed to be from Japan, this will be the largest item to have reached Washington shores from the Tsunami.