Derelict-boat bill passes in Washington state

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A measure to encourage local governments and marinas to help clear abandoned boats from state water and aquatic areas was approved by lawmakers and is on its way to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The bill, which drew virtually no opposition, is intended to help state authorities deal with what they say is a persistent problem of clearing derelict vessels that sink or fall apart in waterways, potentially causing navigation hazards, according to

Among other things, the bill says local governments or marinas that pay to have boats removed are not liable for damages unless the work results in "gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct." It also says ports can be reimbursed by the state for as much as 90 percent of the removal costs.

The law was requested by the state Department of Natural Resources, which heads a statewide boat removal program.

The agency has said there are about 200 abandoned, deteriorating boats sitting in state waters at any given time and the numbers have not declined despite increased efforts to remove more of them.

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