EVERETT — A large crane lifted scraps of wood and metal from the Snohomish River on Thursday, as cars passed overhead on the U.S. 2 trestle.
Workers hauled the debris out of the water and into a big orange container. Buildings near downtown Everett could be seen in the distance, against a cloudy, gray sky.
This week crews are removing the Midas, a derelict boat that’s been in the waterway for nearly four years. If all goes as planned, it should be gone by early next week.
During its time in the water, the Midas has leaked contaminants such as oil, fuel, lead and asbestos, program manager Troy Wood said.
Money is the main reason it’s taken so long to take care of the boat.
“This year we got a $2.5 million one-time stipend from the Legislature to remove large vessels, and this was the No. 1 vessel to remove with that money,” he said.
Now state leaders are asking to put more preventative measures in place for these kinds of problems.
One of those is to make it so more people can give their vessels to the Department of Natural Resources Vessel Turn-in Program. Owners can get rid of boats that are close to becoming derelict or abandoned.
Those kinds of changes could help save money and the environment, said state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
She visited the Midas cleanup Thursday.
“If we had been able to get it out of the water four years ago, when it was still on the surface, it would have cost us $100,000 and less environmental degradation,” she said. “We’re sort of in the place of reacting at the worst time versus up front being proactive.”
Seattle company Global Diving & Salvage is removing the Midas, a job that’s going to cost $400,000.
The Derelict Vessel Removal Program pays up front, then bills the owner later. They rarely pay, said Wood, the program manager.
The removal program started in 2003, and has gotten rid of 800 boats at a cost of about $16 million. Less than 1% of that has been paid back by owners.
Every two years, the removal program receives $2.5 million from the Legislature. That’s a fraction of what it will take to remove the roughly 175 derelict vessels sitting in Washington waters.
Whatever can be recycled from the Midas will be. The rest is going to landfills.
In its past life, the Midas was a commercial fishing vessel working between Alaska and Washington. At one point in the 1980s, it sold for more than $4 million.
Decades later it appeared in the Steamboat Slough between Everett and Marysville. Its owner moved it to the Snohomish River last year.
He registered the ship as Hannah Marie.
But until the very end, passersby may have only known it as the “Midas.” The name was printed on its side in yellow letters, over chipped blue paint.
Report a vessel
Report derelict or abandoned boats and other suspected marine problems at www.mycoast.org/wa, or download the MyCoast.org app on a smartphone. It sends an alert to the correct department to check on each report.