Marine vessels may now be taken apart over the water under the terms of a new state permit that helps protect water quality and prevents pollution.

The Department of Ecology recently finalized the new Vessel Deconstruction General Permit. Businesses and boat owners that plan to dismantle older vessels while they are still in the water will now need to get the permit prior to starting work.

Ecology developed the permit in response to the growing problem of deteriorating and sometimes abandoned vessels that pose risks to Washington waters and to public health and safety.

The vessels can be at risk of sinking and can contain oil, fuel and hazardous materials that are toxic to our waters.

Removing and disposing of them safely and properly is a priority for reducing environmental harm, but relatively few facilities are permitted to perform this work.

Before this permit, there was no allowance for taking vessels apart over water. This new permit fills that void, but it will not replace permits for existing facilities.

The permit is expected to create cost savings and additional options for vessel owners when deconstruction at a shipyard is not feasible. Final deconstruction would need to be done at facilities permitted to perform this work.

Ecology enlisted an advisory committee of industry experts, and collected public comments, in developing the permit.