VMRC works to identify owners of rusting boats sitting idle near Campostella Bridge

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by Eric Kane, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 11 at 9:15 AM

UPDATE 12/10:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission met Tuesday and said they are going to work with the City of Norfolk to identify the owners of the boats and ask the owners to move them. 

NORFOLK—One property owner near the Campostella Bridge is fed up with what he calls a floating scrap yard.

In an inlet on the south end of the bridge, there’s a collection of nearly two dozen old boats ranging in size from 100-300 feet.

Jim Lang, an Environmental and Admiralty attorney with Pender & Coward Law Firm, represents Carmelo Gomez, the owner of a six-acre parcel of land near the boats.  Lang says the boats are owned by Tim Mullane, who Lang says has been treating this inlet as a parking lot for scrap ships since 2005. Lang believes Mullane’s original intention was to sell some of the boats for conversion into artificial reefs.

"Many of them are in such poor condition that if they were blown around they would end up on the shoreline. They would end up breaking in half," Lang contends.

Lang says some of the boats are over 60 years old and contain potential harmful chemicals like lead paint and asbestos. Lang and Gomez worry the vessels will hurt property value and could impact the environment.

"If these vessels came apart, there's the potential some of those kinds of pollutants could be released to the environment," Lang believes.

Lang’s requests for the boats' removal went unanswered, so he began the lengthy process of documenting each vessel, listing each of their defects, in hopes of getting local, state and federal agencies to force Mullane to clean up the site.

On Tuesday, Lang and Gomez will present their case to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission in Newport News. VMRC holds jurisdiction over Virginia waterways.

Because many of the ships have run aground, Lang argues this could be considered trespassing.

13News Now was unable to reach Mullane’s attorney for comment.

 

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