Oregon International Port of Coos Bay Promotes Environmental Stewardship Through Removal and Disposal of Derelict Vessels

News and Information from
Oregon International Port of Coos Bay

For Immediate Release: November 1, 2017

Oregon International Port of Coos Bay Promotes Environmental Stewardship Through Removal and Disposal of Derelict Vessels

Abandoned and derelict vessels are a problem for many U.S. harbors, bays, and shorelines. Sunken, stranded, and decrepit vessels are not only an eyesore, but also hazards to navigation. Additionally, these vessels can pose significant threats to natural resources. They can physically destroy sensitive marine and coastal habitats, sink or move during coastal storms, disperse oil and toxic chemicals still on board, become a source of marine debris, or spread abandoned nets and fishing gear that entangle and endanger marine life.

Disposal of these vessels often falls on the shoulders of Port Authorities throughout the United States.  This poses a challenge for the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay (OIPCB) as removing and destroying these vessels is very expensive. Unfortunately, there is extremely limited funding available to support their disposal.  Addressing these vessels requires a significant amount of staff time and resources.  

Currently, there are 22 derelict vessels in Charleston.  Nineteen of which are being stored at the Charleston Shipyard, and three are still in the water.  Removing derelict vessels from the water is extremely important in order to prevent them from sinking.  “If a vessel sinks, the cost to remove it from the water goes up tremendously,” states John Buckley, Charleston Harbormaster, “additionally, the risk of either pollution or navigational hazards in our waterways is significantly increased.”   

OIPCB works in concert with the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) and other stakeholders throughout the state in an effort to develop preventative strategies to address derelict vessels.  This year, the Port sets aside $25,000 to dispose of derelict vessels.  Oregon Ports also receive some support for these efforts from the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon State Marine Board, which can provide assistance in funding a large percentage of the costs to dispose of hazardous waste like oil, fuel, or batteries.  In 2015 and 2016, the Port was able to remove and dispose of 3 vessels each year.  This year, the Port anticipates that 5 derelict vessels will be destroyed and disposed of with the help of OSMB and DEQ.

The number of vessels that the Port can address with this funding varies from year to year, depending on the vessels selected for disposal.  The Port contracts with a company to test the vessels for the presence of asbestos and lead paint.  When asbestos is present, the Port has to pay to have it abated prior to disposal.  For vessels that are found to have lead paint, once dismantled and loaded, they have to be transported to the Coffin Butte Hazardous Material Disposal Site, which is located near Corvallis, Oregon. 

The safe and effective removal and disposal of derelict vessels is essential in maintaining the quality of our waterways, and furthers OIPCB’s environmental goal to continue to operate Port facilities consistent with established best management practices.  OIPCB is committed to being a responsible environmental steward through sustainable economic development of the region. 

 

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For additional media information, please contact:

Margaret Barber, External Affairs Manager, Port of Coos Bay
            Phone 541.267.3713 / E-mail: mbarber@portofcoosbay.com /