PETALUMA (KCBS) – A joint project to clean up the Petaluma River is underway, as federal, state and local officials are targeting abandoned water vessels and other hazardous debris that have accumulated in the waterway.

“(We’re grabbing) old barges that have no motors and then what looks to be commercial-like fishing boats, 24-30 feet long that have been abandoned at the bank,” said Will Duncan with the Environmental Protection Agency.

KCBS’ Larry Chiaroni Reports:

Duncan said this week, the EPA’s emergency response program will begin assessing the hazardous materials slated for removal.

“(That includes) lead paint that’s been used to paint the vessels. And it also includes fuels that have been left on board, oils that are left in the engine and in some cases, you may actually have asbestos in the material that’s on deck.”

Once the hazardous materials have been removed, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery will attempt to recycle, if possible, any of the leftover materials from the wrecks.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Ed Hoener said locally, they are trying to find out who might be responsible for the abandoned boats and debris.

“Some of the people that we’ve contacted we suspect might have some sort of ownership responsibility, but don’t want to take any responsibility,” said Hoener. “Because we’re talking money for cleanup.”

The main areas slated for cleanup run along the shoreline of the Petaluma River and stretch from Highway 37 to the city of Petaluma.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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