Inslee signs bill to strengthen derelict vessel prevention program -San Juan Islander

Good news! A new round of funding to help our counties deal with the issue of derelict vessels.

The state Department of Natural Resources will receive additional funding to address derelict vessels under a measure signed by Gov. Jay Inslee this week. Senate Bill 6528, sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes), will strengthen the program addressing the problem of sunken or neglected boats in Washington’s waters. (San Juan Islander)

Inslee signs bill to strengthen derelict vessel prevention program

State fines Brinnon boat owner more than $16,000 for spill after sinking; DNR presents $123,446 bill for vessel’s recovery – PDN

An unfortunate set of events, both for the owner, and taxpayers that had to pay to have it towed away and dismantled.

The state Department of Ecology has fined the owner of Avalon, a 1929 wooden purse seiner, $16,244 after it sank and spilled diesel near Brinnon on Sept. 14. The owner, Randall Schleich, 56, of Brinnon, said he plans to partially contest the ruling, although he said he doesn’t have the resources to hire legal counsel and accepts responsibility for the spill. “I am going to contest it because I can’t afford to pay it,” he said. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Legislature approves several Puget Sound priority bills

The fact that what did get put forward in the legislature this year did get passed is good news. Other bills that were important died in committee, some with very little help from even their sponsors (such as the bill allowing the banning of net pens that was sponsored by Representative Kevin Van De Wege and lightly supported by him). However, the rubber will meet the road in Olympia, this week and next, as the budget tries to get through. All these bills’ funding is stalled in the Senate, which, with a small Republican majority, is blocking a final budget. If you are so inclined, call your Representatives and Senator and tell them to get this done.  Kudos to NGO’s such as Washington Environmental Coalition, Puget Soundkeepers, Audubon, and companies such as Taylor Shellfish, who have stepped into a leadership role fighting Ocean Acidification, along with  many others who championed these bills.
Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law all of the Puget Sound priority bills. Most recently, partners celebrated the signing of bills that prevent derelict vessels (ESHB 1245), prevent aquatic invasive species (SB 5702), strengthen the management of our coastal resources and protect Washington waters from the effects of ocean acidification (SB 5603). Attention remains on the budget, where little progress is visible toward bridging the significant impasse between the House and Senate.

Derelict vessel bill signed into law – Kitsap Sun

From the Kitsap Sun:

Legislation that would encourage state officials to deal with derelict vessels earlier than usual was signed Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee. Key provisions of the bill include extending a $1 surcharge on vessel registrations to help pay for the program, authorizing state agencies to board vessels that threaten public health and the environment, changing violations from a criminal offense to a civil infraction to improve enforcement efforts, and requiring owners of vessels longer than 65 feet and older than 40 years to obtain an inspection before selling the boat. The inspection provisions take effect in July 2014.

This legislation was the work of a huge number of people over the last ten years, including calls by this blog for this legislation to pass. Locally, the Tribes, the NW Straits Initiative, The Puget Sound Partnership, county and city governments here on the peninsula, and many environmental groups.

As background on just one perspective of the work that went into this bill, I contacted Alicia Lawver, the public information officer for the Puget Sound Partnership, and asked her what work the Partnership did on this bill. Here’s her response.

Todd Hass of the Puget Sound Partnership testified to the Washington House and Senate about the importance of maintaining derelict vessel program funding by not letting the $1 recreational vessel surcharge sunset.

· The Partnership also testified about the value of requiring sellers of older, large vessels to provide potential buyers with a seaworthiness inspection to help break the typical downward spiral in vessel owner responsibility as vessels age, decline and are downgraded in their use.

· The Partnership also emphasized that this bill is about prevention and not after-the-fact clean up. This bill improves the Department of Ecology’s ability to inspect derelict vessels and remove hazardous materials threats before they pollute Washington waters. But improving regulations will not by itself take care of existing derelict vessels. We need funding to remove these vessels proactively, to complement the improved regulations in ESHB 1245.

· Addressing the backlog of derelict vessels will take legislative commitment. Removing a vessel before it sinks is more advantageous to the state from both a cost and environmental perspective. Attention remains on the budget proposals, which includes $2 million in the Operating Budget for the derelict vessel program and $10 million in the Capital Budget to expedite removal of the more than 230 older, larger, more expensive ships that threaten the health of Puget Sound.

· The Partnership authored an OP-ED after the catastrophe with the ‘Deep Sea,’ then convened the diverse members of the Oil Spill Work Group to evaluate and develop solutions to this problem – which were later advanced by the Department of Natural Resources, which manages the State’s derelict removal program.

Also our local Marine Resource Committees all had a strong stand and requested this bill happen. It was very bi-partisan this year, because of a major spill on Whidbey Island where the state representatives are primarily Republican. They were supportive of protecting their local shellfish industry. It’s sad that it sometimes takes reaction to fix things, rather than prevention. But we’re happy it got done.

Chris Dunagan reports the rest of the story at:

Another Dalco Passage in the making as State & Federal Agencies Dawdle

Back in the early part of the last decade, a tug passing in the middle of the night saw an oil spill south of Vashon Island. After alerting the Coast Guard and the State, the tug captain left, expecting something would be done. 12 hours later State and CG people showed up, leading to an outrageous oil spill that seemed compounded by lack of action. The Governor called for an investigation and the whole incident led to the forming of the Puget Sound Partnership.

Fast forward to today. The Deep Sea, a 140-foot fishing vessel, that the State Derelict Vessel Program knew about but did nothing of any consequence, caught fire and sank almost three weeks ago. It’s been leaking oil ever since, forcing the closure of multimillion dollar local shellfish beds, the kinds of beds that the Puget Sound Partnership and the Governor are claiming they want to protect. The boat’s set to be removed from Penn Cove on Sunday. What’s taken so long? Is the Governor going to call for some changes that can stop this kind of nonsense once and for all? Our environmental activist organizations, such as People For Puget Sound, don’t even have a mention of it on their web site as of today (Friday, June 1).

Again, everyone seems asleep at the wheel, and unable to get anything of any consequence done to avoid this kind of fiasco in the first place.

I call on the Governor to get a sense of urgency about this situation, make changes to the Derelict Vessel Program, and making legal changes to bring this kind of negligence by the State to an end. When your car breaks down on the side of the road, it is routinely towed, usually within 24 hours, though it may not be a hazard to anyone. Why can’t a derelict vessel be towed in less than a week?

Sunken Vessel Off Whidbey Island to be Removed Sunday

UPDATE: Penn Cove derelict vessel burns and sinks

No matter the cost, the 128-foot crab boat that caught fire and then sank in Penn Cove this weekend will be raised and removed, according to officials with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Toni Droscher, spokeswoman for the agency, confirmed that the huge steel fishing vessel is not too big to pluck from the bottom, but it will be expensive and it’s a cost that will initially be borne by taxpayers.

“We will get that boat out of there,” Droscher said. “We have to protect the resource.”

The Deep Sea, which has been illegally anchored in Penn Cove for months, caught fire late Saturday evening. The blaze raged unchecked for about two hours before fireboats from Camano Island Fire and Rescue and the U.S Coast Guard arrived and began hitting the vessel with water.

Flames on deck had largely been extinguished by 2:30 a.m. Sunday but fires continued to burn below. Fire fighting efforts had to be temporarily suspended due to fear of the boat sinking but resumed again at daylight.

At about 6 p.m., about 19 hours after it first caught fire, the vessel finally succumbed and sank in about 60 feet of water just outside Penn Cove Shellfish’s mussel rafts.

%d bloggers like this: