Connecticut Seal

House Bill No. 5658

Public Act No. 06-121

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REMOVAL OF ABANDONED SUNKEN VESSELS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 15-3a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

For the purposes of this chapter:

(1) "Derelict vessel" means any vessel, scow, lighter or similar floating structure or part thereof, whether or not moored, anchored or made fast to shore, that is broken or altered to such an extent that it will not keep afloat with ordinary care;

[(a)] (2) "Harbor" means a place on navigable waters, as defined by this section, where water-borne commercial or recreational traffic enters for the purpose of anchorage or docking or the unloading or receiving of cargo, supplies, equipment, fuel or passengers;

[(b)] (3) "Navigable waters" means waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide shoreward to their mean high-water mark;

[(c)] (4) "Navigable waterways" means waters which are physically capable of supporting water-borne traffic, and subject to the ebb and flow of the tide.

Sec. 2. Section 15-11a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) [Any owner, agent or operator of any vessel, scow, lighter or similar floating structure lying within the limits of any river or harbor who causes or permits the same to be broken or altered to such an extent that it will not keep afloat with ordinary care, or grounds such craft or leaves any part thereof in any river or harbor, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both and the] A duly authorized harbor master shall determine whether a vessel is a derelict vessel. Upon such determination, the Commissioner of Transportation, such harbor master or a duly authorized representative of a municipality may cause [such vessel, scow, lighter or similar floating structure] such derelict vessel to be removed at the expense of [such] any owner, agent or operator of such derelict vessel and may recover the expense of such removal, together with the costs and expenses incident to such removal, including legal expenses and court costs incurred in such recovery, from the owner, agent or operator of such vessel in an action founded upon this section. The last owner of record of such vessel shall be responsible for such vessel. After consultation with the Commissioner of Transportation, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection may consider any such [sunken or grounded vessel, scow, lighter or similar structure] vessel to be an encroachment subject to the provisions of sections 22a-359 to [22a-363,] 22a-363f, inclusive.

(b) Prior to removing and taking such derelict vessel into custody, the Commissioner of Transportation, a duly authorized harbor master or a duly authorized representative of a municipality shall make a reasonable attempt to notify the owner, agent or operator of the vessel and shall allow such owner, agent or operator to make arrangements for removal of the vessel. Such notification shall inform the owner, agent or operator that, pursuant to this section, if the vessel is not removed within twenty-four hours of notification, it shall be removed, taken into custody and stored at the owner, agent or operator's expense.

(c) Prior to removing a derelict vessel, the Commissioner of Transportation, a duly authorized harbor master or a duly authorized representative of a municipality shall affix to such vessel a readily visible notification sticker. The notification sticker shall contain the following information: (1) The date and time the notification sticker was affixed to the vessel, (2) a statement that, pursuant to this section, if the vessel is not removed within twenty-four hours of the time the sticker was affixed, it shall be taken into custody and stored at the owner's expense, (3) the location and telephone number where additional information may be obtained, and (4) the identity of the person who affixed the sticker.

(d) If the derelict vessel is not removed by the owner, agent or operator within the time period provided in subsection (c) of this section, the Commissioner of Transportation, a duly authorized harbor master or a duly authorized representative of a municipality may direct that such vessel be removed and taken into custody and may cause the same to be stored in a suitable place.

(e) If a derelict vessel is removed and taken into custody pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the Commissioner of Transportation, a duly authorized harbor master or a duly authorized representative of a municipality shall give written notice, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner, agent or operator of such vessel, if known, which notice shall state: (1) The vessel has been removed, taken into custody and stored, (2) the location from which the vessel was removed, and (3) that the vessel may be disposed of after fifteen days if the market value of such vessel, as determined by a certified marine surveyor, does not exceed two thousand dollars or that the vessel may be sold after ninety days, pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f) of this section.

(f) Ninety days or more after written notice has been given pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, the Commissioner of Transportation, a duly authorized harbor master or a duly authorized representative of a municipality may sell a derelict vessel at public auction in accordance with the provisions of this section. The commissioner, harbor master or authorized agent of a municipality shall apply the proceeds of such sale toward the payment of its charges, any storage charges and the payment of any debt or obligation incurred by the commissioner, harbor master or agent who placed the vessel in storage. Such sale shall be advertised twice in a newspaper published or having a circulation in the town where such vessel is stored or is located, commencing at least five days before such sale; and, if the last place of abode of the owner, agent or operator of such vessel is known to or ascertained by the commissioner, harbor master or agent by the exercise of reasonable diligence, notice of the time and place of sale shall be given to such owner, agent or operator by sending such notice to the owner, agent or operator, certified mail, return receipt requested, at such last place of abode at least five days before the day of the sale. The proceeds of such sale, after deducting any amount due for removal and storage charges and all expenses connected with such sale, shall be paid to the owner, agent or operator of such vessel or the owner, agent or operator's legal representatives, if claimed by the owner, agent or operator or the owner, agent or operator's legal representative at any time within one year from the date of such sale. If such balance is not claimed within said period, it shall escheat to the municipality from which the vessel was removed. If the expenses incurred by the commissioner, harbor master or agent for such removal and storage and sale of such vessel and any fines exceed the proceeds of such sale, the owner, agent or operator of the vessel shall be liable for such excess expenses.

[(b)] (g) The Commissioner of Transportation may require the owner, agent or operator to furnish a performance bond in an amount sufficient to cover the estimated costs of removal as determined by the commissioner.

Approved June 2, 2006