Coast Guard:

Abandoned Vessels Are Polluting the Waterways

T-RCED-92-54: Published: Jun 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1992.

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GAO discussed the problem of vessels abandoned in the nation's waterways, focusing on the: (1) number of vessels that have been abandoned nationwide; (2) extent of environmental problems caused by abandoned vessels and the associated costs; and (3) adequacy of federal laws and regulations on abandoned vessels. GAO noted that: (1) almost 1,300 vessels lie abandoned in the nation's waterways; (2) the actual number of abandoned vessels is probably greater because the Coast Guard has not searched all waterways for such vessels; (3) since 1988, abandoned vessels have caused 82 incidents of water pollution, threatening marine animal and plant life; (3) those incidents involved almost 2 million gallons of pollutants, including hazardous materials that were illegally dumped into abandoned vessels; (4) the federal government spent $4.4 million to clean up pollutants from abandoned vessels; and (5) federal laws do not prohibit owners from abandoning vessels and do not ensure that all vessel owners can be identified.

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