Marine Environment

Disposal of Toxic Substances

Disposal of Toxic Substances

Spills and improper disposal of toxic substances such as fuels, oils, cleaning products and antifreeze can pollute the water and make it dangerous for both humans and wildlife. It is every boater’s responsibility to be aware of the risks associated with such pollutants and to follow all regulations regarding the prevention of such pollution. Disregard of such regulations and laws may result in a fine for noncompliance.

Antifreeze, oil residue and fuel are also pollutants that are often pumped by automatic bilge pumps into the water. To avoid automatically pumping these pollutants into the water, boaters should ensure that the bilge is clean before activating an automatic bilge pump.

The federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of oil and hazardous substances into navigable waters in the U.S. Regulations require that all watercraft with propulsion machinery (powerboats) have a means to retain all oily mixtures onboard and to transfer such mixtures into an approved reception facility.

Some suitable retaining options that meet the federal requirement for retention include:

  • Buckets
  • Oil-absorbent pads
  • Heavy-duty plastic bags
  • Bailers
  • Portable Pumps

No boater or passenger should intentionally drain oil or oily waste from any source into the bilge of the boat.

Reporting Oil Spills and Discharge

If a boater’s vessel discharges oil or hazardous materials into U.S. waters, he must immediately notify the U.S. Coast Guard through the Coast Guard National Response Center at (800) 424-8802.

Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Location of the incident
  • Size/quantity (estimated amount of material released)
  • Description, color, consistency and odor
  • Date and time observed
  • Source and cause of the release, if known
  • Substance, if known
  • Weather and any other information that may help emergency personnel respond to the incident