Federal agency removes leaky, sunken boat from Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A private contractor hired by a federal agency removed a partially sunken boat on Tuesday that may have been leaking fluid into Lake Tahoe.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contracted High Sierra Marine out of Tahoe City to raise a vessel that was first reported sunk in mid-January about 300 yards off the shore of Pope Beach in South Lake Tahoe.
Repeated efforts by multiple agencies to identify and contact the owner of the vessel had been unsuccessful, EPA spokeswoman Margot Perez Sullivan said.
The EPA is spending about $20,000 to remove the 40-foot recreational vessel and associated debris.
High Sierra Marine personnel arrived on scene at about 10 a.m. Tuesday morning to start the process of removing the boat. They were battling a steady wind with about foot-tall waves crashing into Pope Beach.
The Associated Press reported that Jeff Cowen, of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, said the boat will be taken to the U.S. Coast Guard’s facility in Tahoe City, where law enforcement will oversee the boat’s disposal or auction.
Perez Sullivan didn’t have any immediate estimate Tuesday of the amount of oil that may have leaked.
“We are taking it seriously, regardless of the amount,” Cowen said.
The boat was moored to a privately owned buoy, but the buoy owner was not aware of how the boat got there and is denying any responsibility, Cowen said.
Two weeks after the boat was reported, the sheriff’s office discovered its owner was dead and his next of kin “all said they don’t want anything to do with it,” Cowen said.
The action was taken under EPA’s emergency response authority. The agency’s emergency response program responds to oil spills; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents; and large-scale national emergencies, including homeland security incidents. In all such incidents, EPA coordinates closely with state and local agencies.
The EPA removed the boat in coordination with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
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