- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A federal lawsuit has been filed in a dispute over hulks of old ships floating in the Elizabeth River.

Nearby landowner Carmelo Gomez filed the lawsuit asking a judge to force Timothy Mullane, who owns about 10 ships in the waterway, to move the ships, the Virginian-Pilot reports (http://bit.ly/1KkTiwh).

“He brings in these vessels, and they just sit there,” Gomez’s sister-in-law Regina Gomez said.

The Gomezes say the ships are an environmental hazard and depress their property value.

The State Department of Environmental Quality has cited Mullane for diesel fuel spilling from a ship lying on its side. The Norfolk Wetlands Board has fined him twice for disturbing and destroying wetlands.

Mullane says some of the ships will soon be gone and sunk to make artificial reefs.

“I’m in the business of creating beneficial habitat by creating artificial reefs,” Mullane said. “We like to think we’re doing good in this world.”

The ships, some more than 200 feet long, pack the unnamed inlet at the foot of the Campostella Bridge.

The vessels include the 205-foot Coast Guard cutter Tamaroa, best known for its role in the rescue made famous by the book and movie “The Perfect Storm.”



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