EDITORIAL | Derelict vessel rules a win for Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law last week legislation that further targets the ongoing problem of derelict vessels scattered throughout Washington’s waterways.

While the new rules do not provide instant gratification to those seeking justice and accountability for past disasters, such as with Rory Westmoreland, the owner of the crab boat that sank in Penn Cove in 2012 at a cost of $5.4 million to taxpayers, it is another step toward the prevention of future incidents.

The second round of legislation, this bill builds on rules adopted in 2013 by prohibiting the sale of unseaworthy vessels of a certain age and size, establishing new insurance requirements, making deconstruction more affordable and creating stable funding for the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Account.

State Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, was instrumental in both years of legislation. She is quick to share the credit, but constituents should ignore her humility. She worked hard on these bills and deserves our thanks.

These new rules aren’t perfect and don’t guarantee another large derelict vessel won’t sink in the future, but they will help and are an example of government successfully working to address a serious problem long after it ceases to be the subject of headlines.

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