Two substantial military boats have been abandoned for 16 years by the Interstate Bridge on the banks of the Columbia River.
The boats are now being removed after intermittently leaking oil and fuel for years, marking the beginning of a process that might remove hundreds of other boats throughout Oregon.
The state of Oregon will take control of the vessels while the Coast Guard is in charge of cleanup. Metro had to obtain a permit and pay for the removal itself in the interim.
The Saclarissa, a Navy tug, was one of the ships, according to U.S. Coast Guard captain Scott Jackson, who gave a description of them to KOIN 6 News. The Alert, a retired Coast Guard cutter, was the other vessel.
Although the two abandoned ships have been there for 16 years, they have just recently become an issue due to gasoline leaks.
“I hate oil. Whatever it is, it might pose harm to the environment because waterfowl and salmon populations are there, Capt. Jackson said.
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The ships were brought in with the idea of becoming a museum, but once the funds ran out, that scheme was abandoned.
The Coast Guard claims that squatters cut a hole in the ship, causing it to sink and expose more chemicals, and the ships soon met a similar demise. Currently, Metro is spending $2 million to remove the vessels while the Coast Guard is spending over $1 million to clean up the mess.
Capt. Jackson remarked, “This is success in partnership; this is leveraging certain roles.”
These two are among the estimated 300 abandoned vessels in Oregon, according to the state. They would cost $40 million to remove, according to the state.
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Currently, if a vessel is presenting a hazard by drifting down the river, about a dozen of them are removed annually.
With a partnership established, funding is now required to take care of the remaining issues.
Capt. Jackson said, “Ideally, we will be able to put up a state program to set up with various state agencies and federal partners to address this.”
In order to keep ahead of abandoned boats, Metro is also working on a boat take-back program. Metro hopes to reveal more about the initiative by the end of 2022.
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