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Need to Know

Washington State Seeks to Recycle its ‘Ghost Ships’

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The Department of Natural Resources is looking to recycle about 160 abandoned vessels across the state.

When vessels—whether they’re dinghies, cruisers, fishing boats or icebreakers­—are abandoned, they often leak polluting fuels, scour the bottom of the ocean floor and degrade habitat, let loose contaminants like lead paint and asbestos and even pose navigational hazards.

In Washington state, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has about 160 such vessels across the state on public property alone. DNR and the state are now looking at ways to turn these “ghost ships into treasure.” And right now, the best solution seems to be recycling.

OPB has more:

On the banks of the Hoquiam River in southwestern Washington, a mostly sunken vessel lies along a bank at an angle with only its mast and the top of its pilothouse marking its resting place. This stretch of river is a misty, placid working patch of water marked with boats, boatyards and Highway 101 bridges. The derelict we’re looking at is a wooden fishing boat called the Lady Grace, which turned 90 years old this year. Someone wanted to save it, but age caught up.

This is an example of where owning an old boat ends with reality, a case of folks with “great dreams and aspirations, and no money,” says Troy Wood, the man in charge of dealing with derelict vessels in Washington. The unenviable job falls to the Department of Natural Resources, which manages 2.4 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands.

There’s an old saying that a boat is simply a hole in the water into which you dump your cash. They can be cheap to buy, but are expensive to maintain, insure, berth, repair and operate. They age, they weather, they often sink.

When they do, they create another kind of money hole: a maritime cleanup project often leaves taxpayers with the bill for removal. It’s a problem around the state, but here in southwest Washington there’s a plan afoot to deal with derelicts like the Lady Grace. The solution: recycling.

Read the full article here.

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