FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - A project is underway to remove abandoned boats and hazardous, marine debris from Folly Beach waterways.
It’s a problem many coastal communities face, but it’s challenging to address, according to Folly Beach Public Safety Chief Andrew Gilreath.
“We noticed that with the storms, boats that were moored or moored improperly were moving around and creating a danger, not only to themselves but everything surrounding them,” Gilreath said. “That kind of started the discussion, what’s safe for us, our harbor, our neighbors, our folks that own property on the water.”
City officials, the public safety department and state and federal agencies have partnered together for the "Folly Beach Abandoned Vessels & Marine Debris Removal Project."
“With frequent storms, ever changing hazardous conditions and debris are created by them. By utilizing our Marine Unit, we've been able to help make this happen. Team Folly has been working hard to bring this project to fruition and we anticipate actual removal work to begin later this year,” a Facebook post from Folly Beach Public Safety said.
Folly Beach officials hope to be removing abandoned vessels from the waterways by September at the latest, just as hurricane season reaches its peak.
“They create basically little moving dangers,” Gilreath said. “We’ve had them hit the bridges. We’ve had them hit people’s docks.”
Officials say the abandoned vessels and other debris are not only safety issues but can also create environmental hazards.
“If they’re not cared for, not moored properly, not lit properly, they don’t need to be there,” Gilreath said. “The marsh and the river is kind of a culmination of a lot of different jurisdictions, and so it’s not so much passing the buck as it is trying to determine who has the authority and the ability to do it.”
Gilreath said it is very expensive to remove the boats causing the problems, but for now, the next step is finding the right company to do the work.
“Once that selection is made, we are trying to get things done before the next storm season, so hopefully things will be wrapped up by September so we don’t get the same issue,” Gilreath said.