Senate approves fine tuning of derelict vessel remedies; measure goes to governor

Derelict vessel
Derelict vessels, large and small, create navigation and environmental hazards in Washington State's waterways. Photo: DNR.

The Washington State Senate this afternoon approved a bill requested by DNR to help clean up and remove derelict and abandoned vessels from Washington State’s waters. The final version of the measure (SSB 5271) improving the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program passed the Senate 45-0 late this afternoon, and now moves to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk for final action. Earlier this month, it passed the House on a 93-0 vote.

Considered an essential element of the effort to clean up Puget Sound, the Derelict Vessel Removal Program, which DNR administers, will now hold owners of derelict or abandoned vessels more accountable and will provide local governments the same liability immunity that emergency responders have.

DNR requested a fine tuning of the program after consulting with communities with continuing problems from boats and other vessels whose owners allow them to deteriorate and become environmental or navigational safety hazards.

The bill would:

  • Make it a misdemeanor for a person to intentionally, without authorization, cause a vessel to sink, break up, or block navigational channels.
  • Limit civil liability for authorized public entities exercising their authority under the Derelict Vessel Removal Program.
  • Make other changes to the statutes governing the removal of derelict vessels, such as increasing the amount of reimbursement that local governments can seek from the program when the owner of an abandoned or derelict vessel they’ve removed cannot pay the removal cost or cannot be located.

Read more about SSB 5271.

Follow DNR on: Facebook Fan See us on Flickr Watch us YouTube Follow us on Twitter Follow DNR Fire Twitter Join in the DNR Forum