FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2013
Legislation aims to lessen taxpayer burden by strengthening the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program
House and Senate will hear bills Thursday
OLYMPIA – The costly and high-profile sinking of several large aquatic vessels in Washington waters last year has prompted bipartisan support in both houses for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) request legislation to bolster the state’s power to deal with derelict and abandoned vessels.
House Bill 1245 and Senate Bill 5663 will hold vessel owners more accountable, prevent vessels from becoming derelict or abandoned in the first place, make enforcement more effective, and shore up funding so these vessels don’t become a burden to Washington taxpayers or create an environmental disaster.
When the Deep Sea caught fire and sank in Penn Cove last year, the accompanying oil spill response, raising, towing, dismantling, and disposal of this vessel cost the state nearly $3 million and caused a world-renowned shellfish farm to shut down its operation for at least a month.
“We need to find a way to keep these vessels from being abandoned in our waterways, and that means holding owners accountable,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Too many people get in over their heads, and their dreams of ship renovation or making money from scrap become a nightmare for the citizens of this state and the marine environment.”
Goldmark went on to praise the many legislators who have worked to move the legislation forward, including Rep. Drew Hansen (D-23rd), the prime sponsor of HB 1245, and Rep. Norma Smith (R-10th), Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-39th), prime sponsor of SB 5663, and Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40th).
“This legislation protects jobs by getting abandoned boats out of our waters before they sink and cause millions of dollars of damage to our state’s shellfish and recreation industries,” said Rep. Hansen. “This is a real concern for us in Kitsap County, where we have lots of jobs that depend on safe and clean waterways.”
“There’s no denying that derelict vessels are an eyesore and a real environmental problem,” said Sen. Pearson (R-39th). “So I’m committed to taking action. Any proposal that recognizes the cost and the challenges to all the stakeholders must have a chance to be considered by the legislature.”
Hearings on both bills are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today, February 14:
• HB 1245 will be heard in Executive Session by the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. (Agenda | View live on TVW.)
• SB 5663 will be discussed in a work session and public hearing by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Parks. (Agenda | View live on TVW.)
For more information at-a-glance about DNR’s legislative request, visit: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/em_leg2013_strengthen_dvrp.pdf
The Derelict Vessel Removal Program
DNR is steward and manager of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands. The agency manages the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program (DVRP), which facilitates the removal and disposal of derelict or abandoned vessels. The goal of the program is to help protect Washington’s waters and public safety. The 2002 Legislature directed DNR to establish the program to manage funding and provide expertise and assistance to public entities (such as cities, counties, ports, state agencies) in removing and disposing derelict and abandoned vessels. The program has removed more than 400 derelict vessels since 2003.
By law, the DVRP must give funding priority to removing and disposing vessels that are in danger of breaking up, sinking, or presenting a threat to human health and safety, the environment, or navigation.
For more information on the Derelict Vessel Removal Program, visit http://bit.ly/dnr_dvrp.
DNR Legislative Contact: Alicia Dunkin, Director of Legislative and External Affairs, 360-902-1593 (office) or 360-742-7984 (cell).
Media Contact: Toni Droscher, DNR Aquatic Resources Division Communications Manager, 360-902-1523, firstname.lastname@example.org
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