Tips for cleaning boats affected by Gulf oil spill

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With the Gulf Coast facing what could be the largest oil spill in U.S. history, paint manufacturers Interlux and Awlgrip are offering tips for cleaning contaminated boats in the region.

The surface of antifouling paint that has become contaminated with oil can become “blocked,” preventing the biocide from being released and leading to premature fouling. It will also result in a contaminated layer that will make adhesion of new antifouling applications difficult.

For hard polishing and ablative antifouling paints that have been heavily contaminated, the best method is to use a paint-stripper to remove all the pollution and the paint from the bottom, then scrub the substrate. Rinse with fresh water and repeat until the surface is clean.

Sanding or sand blasting a surface that still has oil on it may drive the oil into the surface and cause a loss of adhesion of the subsequent coats.

Contaminated topcoats should be cleaned as soon as possible to minimize the damaging effects of the crude oil. In the case of heavy contamination, the material may be a thick, sticky tar-like material.

It is recommended that these surfaces first be cleared by wipe-down, followed by power washing and then cleaned. Do not allow detergent solutions to dry on the surface.

Contaminated waste water should be collected per local marina guidelines, local authority regulations and/or Clean Water Act requirements.

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2 comments on “Tips for cleaning boats affected by Gulf oil spill

  1. laboatdealertryingtosurvive

    We have already had experience with heavy crude oil tar like substance
    on the hullsides of a boat. You cannot pressure wash/wipe down or use detergent to get it off. That is a joke. The only way is to use gasoline on a rag
    and hand wipe the area until it is clean. You must be careful not to blow up and die not to mention burn down the entire shipyard/marina where the job is done.
    Also a respirator and hasmat suit must be worn to protect you from fumes and or skin burns. God bless anyone who has to do this job and God only knows what it will cost.

  2. Ed Donlin

    Ablatives, even hard ablatives like our ‘Super’ Shipbottom can be presure washed off under modern recovery methods. When the ship ran aground in Tampa Bay the oil leakages fouled a suprisingly large number of vessel’s bottoms.
    We never had an adhesion problem with pressure washed bottoms IF they were also washed down with Joy dishwashing liquid. Yes it is a supreme pain but most of those boats expenses were covered.
    Since we are Floridians (Lee County) we feel for the northern Gulf coast and pray it doesn’t follow the loop to Southwest Fl.

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