Bill Proposed to Deal with Ships Run Aground

(KHNL)  Sometimes bad weather drives boats aground, in some cases it's negligence or human error that creates an environmental hazard.

"These ships and boats that end up on the reef, they're damaging the reef, they're ruining the ecosystem, they're often leaking oil," said Rep. Brian Schatz, Water Land Committee vice-chairman.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would give the state the authority to immediately step in and remove vessels that run aground.

In some cases, salvage operations can drag on for days. This bill attempts to address that by setting a deadline for removal of grounded vessels.

"Time is of the essence when these vessels are grounded," Schatz said. "They start leaking immediately, they start doing environmental damage immediately."

Some removals have been delayed because boat owners lack insurance to cover the cost.

"Hopefully this bill overcome that paralysis when there's a problem, people don't know whose agency, who's in charge," said Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club Hawaii director.

Boat owners would be responsible for any damage done to state or private property. The bill also requires owners to cover the cost of the removal.

"It's people's responsibility to take care of themselves when they are on the ocean and it's not everyone else's responsibility to pay when your vessel ends up on the reef," Schatz said.