No state money available for cleanup of many junk boats

Salvage crews begin work on an 87-foot paddle boat on Tuesday, September 6, 2016, on an old paddle boat that sank in the Delta. (KGO-TV)

An old paddle boat that sank in the Delta over the weekend isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Those who patrol the waterways say it's an example of a larger problem that's plagued the delta for years.

The sunken "Spirit of Sacramento" may be a fixture in the Delta for some time as a private salvage company continues to assess the wreckage.

"At this point we do have boom around the entire vessel, that is our primary concern right now is to mitigate the environmental risks," explained Nicole Emmons with the U.S. Coast Guard.

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In the meantime, Contra Costa Sheriff's Marine Patrol confirms their deputies did board the old paddle boat over the weekend as it was anchored illegally along Frank's tract.

"Contra Costa County has in depth mooring and sanitation regulations. They were not in compliance with the law, so the deputies asked them to move along," said Doug Powell with the Sheriff's Marione Patrol Department.

A man and woman on board told locals they recently bought the 87-foot paddleboat for $1,000 dollars at an auction.

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Early Sunday, as it took on water, the two escaped in a dinghy and haven't been seen since. Even if sheriffs locate the couple, chances are they don't have the resources to help pay for the boat's removal.

"People buy them at a fraction of the dollar, they take them out, they sink and then they sit there until they deteriorate," he said.

Contra Costa Sheriffs have successfully removed thousands of abandoned recreational boats in the Delta but current state law provides no funding for cleaning up commercial vessels until they sink and break apart.
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