(1) The Secretary may remove a barge that is abandoned after complying with the following procedures:
(A) If the identity of the owner or operator can be determined, the Secretary shall notify the owner or operator by certified mail—
(B) If the identity of the owner or operator cannot be determined, the Secretary shall publish an announcement in—
that if the barge is not removed it will be removed at the owner’s or operator’s expense.
The United States, and any officer or employee of the United States is not liable to an owner or operator for damages resulting from removal of an abandoned barge under this chapter.
The owner or operator of an abandoned barge is liable, and an abandoned barge is liable in rem, for all expenses that the United States incurs in removing an abandoned barge under this chapter.
The Secretary may, after providing notice under subsection (a)(1), solicit by public advertisement sealed bids for the removal of an abandoned barge.
(2) After solicitation under paragraph (1) the Secretary may award a contract. The contract—
may be subject to the condition that the barge and all property on the barge is the property of the barge removal contractor; and
must require the barge removal contractor to submit to the Secretary a plan for the removal.
Removal of an abandoned barge may begin thirty days after the Secretary completes the procedures under subsection (a)(1).
(Added Pub. L. 102–587, title V, § 5302, Nov. 4, 1992, 106 Stat. 5082.)