March 12, 2003

MARAD to help states use scrapped ships as reefs

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) is to provide financial assistance to states for preparation of obsolete ships as artificial reefs.

MARAD has long had a program in which states could request the transfer of obsolete vessels to be used as artificial reefs, but the entire cost of preparing the ship had to be borne by the states. During the past five years MARAD has transferred only one ship to a state for use as an artificial reef.

Congress has now authorized MARAD to expend ship disposal funds to clean vessels for reefing projects

"Since preparing and cleaning a ship for artificial reefing can range from $500,000 to $1 million or more," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, "having money to help fund preparation work provides a much-needed boost to this innovative program. Reefing now becomes a practical option, and we look forward to working with the states to make it happen."

In addition to the cost to the state of preparing a ship, MARAD realized that other factors also constrained the demand for ships. These included the absence of national environmental guidelines for preparing ships and a lengthy application review and approval process involving multiple federal agencies.

Ships that are used in this program will be cleaned before they are sunk for use as artificial reefs. MARAD has initiated a task force with the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Navy to develop "best practices" for cleaning vessels for this purpose. These guidelines will guide cleanup of ships for shoreline and barrier island protection projects as well. MARAD has also engaged the same federal agencies in developing a streamlined application process.

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