State lawmakers lead push to clean up consigned crafts

The House of Representatives voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of H. 4976 that will establish jurisdiction over abandoned boats in state waterways.

The bill is a first step to removal, according to Andrew Wunderley, Charleston’s Waterkeeper.

He said there are hundreds of abandoned and derelict boats that litter coastal waterways and are an environmental and safety hazard.

“There are two issues,” he said. “One is the environmental hazard that they create. Gas, oil, grease, and electronics that are on the boat can be damaging. When they break free, they end up in really sensitive areas like in oyster beds or in salt marshes. They can be navigational hazards when they sink in the channel. Beyond that, they're unsightly. It's really sad to look out on the beautiful salt marsh vista and see it littered with a couple of abandoned boats.”

The Ashley River, Folly River, and Shipyard Creek in the Cooper River are hot spots for abandoned boats left by owners who can no longer afford the upkeep, according to Wunderley.

He is hopeful the bill will pass in the Senate but said the next crucial step is to raise funding for the removal of the crafts, which can cost thousands of dollars each.

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