Derelict Vessel Removal from Texas Coastal Waters
The Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1991 (OSPRA) authorizes the General Land Office (GLO) to remove and dispose of abandoned and derelict vessels in Texas coastal waters. Texas law states a person may not leave, abandon or maintain a vessel in or on coastal waters, on public or private lands, including public and private docks, if the vessel is in a wrecked, derelict or substantially dismantled condition and the vessel is found to be
- Involved in an actual or threatened discharge of oil;
- A threat to public health, safety or welfare;
- A threat the environment;
- A navigation hazard.
Although the GLO is authorized to remove abandoned vessels, the agency is not required under law to do so. Sec. 40.108 (f) Natural Resources Code states there is not a duty imposed on the state to remove or dispose of a vessel or structure or to warn of a hazardous condition on state land.
The GLO does not receive dedicated funding to remove and dispose of derelict vessels. Depending on the size, type and placement of vessel, removal and disposal costs can be more than $750 a linear foot. The Oil Spill program follows mandated legal procedures for vessel removals, working cooperatively with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to determine ownership and provide notification of abandoned vessels.
To address the growing derelict vessel problem, the Oil Spill program uses a multi-faceted approach which focuses on using agency assets, administrative authority and combining resources with other local and state entities. The primary and most desirable vessel removal strategy is to locate and require a vessel owner to dispose of their own unwanted boat, preferably before it lands in coastal water.
The GLO’s “Vessel Turn In Program” (VTIP) is an event based program that combines both local and state resources to allow owners to relinquish unwanted boats at no charge. Since VTIP’s inception, the TGLO has coordinated 37 events in Galveston, Brazoria, Calhoun, Aransas, Matagorda, Orange, Harris and Jefferson counties as well as the cities of Corpus Christi, Galveston, Port Isabel and Ingleside. VTIP partnerships have resulted in 1,452 boats and 2,763 gallons of fuel safely disposed. Representing the removal of more than 23,557 linear vessel feet, VTIP demonstrates a projected cost savings of $11.7 million for state and local governments.
The GLO also works cooperatively to create partnerships with local entities so that the GLO assumes the administrative responsibility for vessel removal and the local entity supports the removal costs. In certain instances, the Oil Spill program may use spill response equipment and personnel to remove small vessels when a no-cost disposal option is available.
Lastly, the Oil Spill program seeks out funding resources for contracted vessel removal and disposals. However, dedicated funding for vessel removal and disposal is not a part of the GLO budget.
Most importantly - Persons considering boat ownership should have a salvage plan before buying a boat as well as familiarize themselves with the costs, registration and maintenance procedures that responsible boat ownership entails.
Discharge Cleanup Organization (DCO)
To ensure rapid and effective oil spill response, the Land Office Discharge Cleanup Organization (DCO) Program certifies private response contractors and organizations involved in the oil spill recovery industry as eligible for hire during an oil spill cleanup.
Prior to being eligible for hire, a DCO must agree in advance with the charges for services the DCO may provide and quality standards for the work to be done. Once approved, the DCO is placed on a job rotation list for an equitable distribution of state-funded jobs.
Entities having federal Oil Spill Response Organization (OSRO) classification may be certified by the GLO as a DCO with proof of OSRO classification. Organizations exempt from DCO certification requirements but still eligible for state hire are entities whose primary business activity is vacuum truck services, earth moving or oil field equipment maintenance.
To apply to become a DCO, download the Land Office certification packet located on the Forms page. The packet should be completed and returned along with a Spill Response Plan to the appropriate Oil Spill regional office. An orientation/verification visit by a Land Office representative will take place within 60 days after acceptance of the application.