NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A floating junkyard in Norfolk has been cleaned up thanks to a federal order.
10 On Your Side first reported on ignored complaints to a Norfolk businessman to clear out 26 of 30 vessels in the waterway in 2013.
The small waterway off the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River was clogged with 30 vessels preventing passage.
Back in December 2013, Regina Gomez complained to 10 On Your Side.
“There is congestion in the waterway, a lot of bad smelling, or odors, and it’s not just a sustainable operation,” she said,
Gomez owns 307 Campostella, LLC, and rents waterfront piers. She took neighboring American Marine Groups’ Tim Mullane to court. Mullane owns most of the vessels that were in the waterway.
A federal judge convinced Mullane to remove the vessels and clear the waterway.
“It took a long time in federal court, because we couldn’t get it solved any other way,” said Jim Lang, Gomez’s Environmental Attorney.
Mullane’s vessels are now neatly lined up in front of his own property, including the former USS Zuni, which served in the invasion of Okinawa, and later became the Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa seen in the movie “The Perfect Storm.”
Mullane, who Gomez says wouldn’t listen to her appeal to clear the waterway, is the same Tim Mullane who received so much praise for demolishing and removing a stranded sailboat in Ocean View that got beached during a hurricane in 2011 — at no cost.
Ironically, at about the same time in 2011, Gomez began complaining to Mullane to clean up the vessels.
After she was ignored, she finally took him to court in 2013. That’s when they called 10 On Your Side’s Anita Blanton.
“Anita was helpful in the beginning of this case when we needed some public attention to keep the case moving,” says Lang.
A federal Permanent Injunction on Consent binds the two sides to cooperation. If a party believes the other is in violation of this order, they write the attorney and then there’s a 10 day window to fix the wrong. If not, there could be a motion filed to bring the matter back to court.
Calls and messages left for Mullane and his attorney were not returned. A worker at Mullane’s business told us he refuses to give Mullane any messages.