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Who pays for wreck removal in Houston?
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Salvage and wreckage removal

The Port of Houston is one of the busiest in the United States and with that comes the risk of shipwrecks. These shipwrecks can pose a risk to navigation, damage the environment and even cause oil spills.

Who pays for wreck removal in Houston?

So who is responsible for paying for the removal of these wrecks? The answer is not always clear and can depend on several factors, including the age and condition of the vessel, the location of the wreck, and the environmental impact of the wreck.

Legal Structure

The legal framework governing wreck removal in the United States is complex and involves multiple federal and state laws. The most important of these laws are:

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  • The Abandoned Wrecks Act 1987
  • The Oil Pollution Act of 1990
  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
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These laws generally impose responsibility for wreck removal on the vessel owner, the cargo owner, and the government. However, there are several exceptions to these rules and liability may be transferred depending on the circumstances.

Financial Responsibility

Maritime removal?  Legal

Financial responsibility for wreck removal can fall to several different parties, including:

  • The responsible party (vessel owner, cargo owner or government)
  • Insurance companies
  • The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund
  • State and local governments

Factors that determine financial responsibility include:

  • Negligence or intentional acts
  • The age and condition of the vessel
  • The wreck site
  • The environmental impact of the sinking

Case studies

Removal?  For the seafarer

There have been several high-profile shipwrecks in Houston's waterways in recent years. Some of the most notable include:

  • The SS Selm
  • The SS Gulf Merchant
  • Cape Fear MV

In each of these cases, financial responsibility for removing the wreck was a complex issue. In the case of the SS Selm, the vessel's owner was found responsible for the removal costs. In the case of the SS Gulf Merchant, the owner of the cargo was found liable. And in the case of the MV Cape Fear, the government paid the removal costs.

Policy Recommendations

There are a number of policy changes that can be made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of wreck removal. These changes include:

  • Clarifying the legal structure
  • Establishing a dedicated fund for shipwreck removal
  • Promoting international cooperation
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These changes would help ensure that wrecks are removed quickly and efficiently and that removal costs are borne by the parties responsible for the wrecks.

The issue of shipwreck removal is a complex one with no easy answers. However, by working together, interested parties can find solutions that protect the environment, ensure navigational safety, and hold those responsible for removal costs accountable.

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Who pays for wreck removal in Houston?

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Who pays for wreck removal in Houston?

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