EPA seeks comments on discharge practices

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BoatU.S. is asking its members to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency how they operate and maintain their boats as the agency develops and eventually implements best management practices to address.

The Clean Boating Act called for permit requirements targeting “normal operating discharges” from commercial ships. The act also required the EPA to analyze recreational boat discharges and eventually require “management practices” to address environmental concerns.

The deadline for comments is June 2.

“Management practices would be methods, techniques or tools which could mitigate any environmental impact of normal discharges into our waters,” BoatU.S. vice president of government affairs Margaret Podlich said in a statement. “They will vary according to boat type and what that vessel could potentially discharge. For example, the EPA is looking at engine maintenance and could create a management practice that requires the use of a bilge sock to soak up oil in your engine compartment. Of course, this couldn’t apply to a rowboat. But it’s important to understand they are looking at all recreational watercraft.”

To hear boaters’ concerns and suggestions, the EPA has set up two ways to communicate:

  • Boaters can be heard at the agency’s weekly online webinars, which started March 21 and will end April 25. Click here for the dates and to register for these listening sessions.



The EPA is looking at several broad categories of vessel discharges, including the use of antifouling paints and zincs; gray water (from showers and sinks); bilge water (with concern about oil and grease, which already is illegal to discharge); the use of cleaning products; the disposal of garbage and fishing waste; and the transportation of invasive species.

The law requires the EPA to consider many factors when it develops management practices, including the type of discharge and its environmental effect, any effects on operation or safety, costs, international standards and applicability to state or federal laws.


5 comments on “EPA seeks comments on discharge practices

  1. dave

    IF, and that is a big if, the EPA wants to help the recreational boater…why does they not release the Type I MSD report that has been langusihing on someones desk for years.  Is it because it actually supports the facts?  And the facts do not support the desired EPA action or desires?
    None of the EPA “approved” green cleaners are better than the off the shelf ones boaters have been using all along.
    Seems that once again, the EPA wants to swat a few flies, rather than solve the problem.  What “environmental concerns” are being abused by recreational boaters that the EPA feels need to have “management practices” put in place to regulate?
    As I asked the EPA on more than one occasion and for some years now, “What is it that the recreational boater is doing wrong, that contributes to the problem you are trying to create and then regulate”?  They have been non-responsive for years to this simple question.

  2. Marty

     The Employment Prevention Agency  is out of control.
     In this country we have gas station pump nozzles to collect fumes, while Japan, China and many other countries are taking on crap on the planet. Doesn’t the EPA have bigger fish to fry than boaters ? They have now even saddled us with catalytic converters on marine engines, which only turn a chemical that they regulate into one they don’t.
    I boat on a body of water approx 1  mile wide by 5 miles long that has about 1000 boats on it and the state’s pollution classification (which is low tiered ) is listed as bird droppings with no mention of zinc, copper,oil,grease or soap. 
    Show us some evidence we all should be more regulated

  3. Scott Van Allen

    According to Scott Van Allen, local entrepreneur / environmentalist and founder of Railstar Marine, yachts are magical going to the beach machines. They stimulate economies and grace the worlds oceans and ports with their glorious lines.  Many of us harbor a life long love affair with them.
    Why should they not be accountable for their messes and examples set? And what ever happened to yacht crews not be schooled in representing the owners best interest. I refer to not putting vessel in a position of  liability or embarrassment.

    What is Railstar and how did it come about?

    The Railstar “mess management” system is a tool which allows yacht crew, contractors, and refit yards the opportunity to take responsibility for the subsequent messes produced from a variety of regularly scheduled maintenance projects aboard. We designed this more specifically for the sanding; stripping, and the delivery of product to varnished cap rails, however often hear of crews or contractors utilizing it for other projects involving hull or waterline maintenance for example. Now after eight years of infield testing and utilizing this system on countless contracts in marinas and shipyards, Stateside and in Europe, I am forever realizing different configurations of this system and with no geographic parameters re: the commercial opportunity for Railstar.

    We know of no such pre existing product which in any way compares or competes with this system.
    Our light weight polyurethane hooks are reusable, strong, they float, and may prove to have as many other useful functions pertaining to mess management as the imagination permits. I as a professional varnisher have also learned to deliver thicker, more credible coatings, without preoccupation where the overflow or drips would go. No more drips in the water or on the decks, paint, etc.!
    It would be presumptuous of us to speculate on just how much mess this system could prevent from entering the waterways on a global perspective. However I believe that it would be enough to warrant this system being widely available to (and affordable for) yachts wishing to do the right thing. Hopefully there will be more “concerned” yachts and refit facilities looking to qualify their commitment to the environment. I can tell you this; on one refit we filled and emptied a 16 gallon shop vacuum 3 times on the first day. That’s approx. 200 dry liters of debris which was kept from entering the water and subsequently was disposed of in the appropriate recycling bin. One Day, One Boat!
    Railstar does set an example worth following.  And it is affordable!
    I myself am not a born again tree huger. I do not wake up every morning worrying about the environment or how I may change the world. Perhaps I should further qualify this statement by adding that I did however develop this as a conscience contractor/citizen who always maintained a respectful constitution for procedural stewardship. The genesis which led to the conception of Railstar came about while contemplating how my contracting team could be more accountable for any collateral mess on the yachts which employed us. Also it would now be safer to use chemical stripper while removing old product. Previously it had not occurred to me just how much garbage was created from this process as the shavings and dust would enter the water in what appears to be insignificant portions, then quickly sink or float away. The big picture is what is not being seen or reported.
    Many of the clear coatings used on today’s yachts are in fact catalyzed acrylic urethanes, not easily broken down in salt or fresh water! Simply dry sanding varnish with 400 grit creates much more pollution than one would expect. If you were to reverse engineer this concoction of dust you would arrive at plastic compounds; /  reverse engineer further and petroleum!
    One would like to think that most people feel a sense of shame when viewing plastic bags or fuel and oil spill’s floating atop the water. However obscene, these obvious atrocities are more often than not unintended as opposed to the round the clock deliberate discharge of hazardous pollutants from cosmetic upkeep on yachts.
    So that’s how it all began. I was encouraged to continue the development and eventually owned a patent on something which the industry had not yet seen the likes of. Now I was on a mission

  4. Chris Foster

    Brought to you by the same people who brought you E-10 and now want to bring you E-15. Imagine that???????????????????

  5. Scott Van Allen

    Realistically 9 out of 10 in-water refits addressing rail and hull maintenance do not use any such mess containment systems to lessen the amount of pollutants from entering our waterways. Nor are yachts and contractors encouraged to; or reprimanded for not. When / if precedents are set by our industries linchpins, the example will be duplicated. This is an undisputed and proven formula from which progress is nurtured. Most people are begging to be told what they are required to do. Example; If you tell me what I must do, then it’s easy,…  I’m off the hook if challenged! Obviously we understand that it’s just not practical that marina’s and ports will adopt a complete zero tolerance for in-water refits and often I make the following analogy. Take the example of the catalytic converter which was introduce to the auto industry in the late 60’s. It, alike the Railstar mess management system, is not flawless however think of what our world would be like today had it not been adopted. Can there be any argument that our industry is overdue for a reality check?
    Unfortunately the lack of enforced regulation, and disregard for professional responsibility has not encouraged the majority to step up to the plate and embrace standards and systems sympathetic to our changing times and environmental considerations. We are not Neanderthals, within us exists the ability to implement new tools and strategies, we have common sense, and lets not forget, we have The Law Of The Sea and MARPOL 73 / 78.
    On occasion I have pointed out this inconsistency of policy enforcement and the response I have received has often been nothing short of an insult to the good people of our industry, not to mention disgracing the institution of free enterprise itself, ( in view of my enterprise agenda, my observations and voicing them were highly suspect.)
    Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury I stand in front of you guilty as accused. I am an eco-entrepreneur. As a young man it was impressed upon me that to complain and criticize the system without offering a relative solution was off point. With Railstar Marine we have done better than that. Enterprise is mankind’s endeavor to generate the winds of change.
    Lets be clear! Of course much has changed over the years for the better.  There is however much work to do before any eco-solutions officer in any yard or marina (worldwide) can bask in self validation until all of us are doing all that we can. Hopefully no one actually believes that we can wait for governments to initiate the changes necessary, then implement and enforce the legislation required to reverse the sick oceans. It is the sick practices and attitudes by us the people which must be scrutinized. Do we really need to wait for Big Brother to impose accountability into our entire reasoning process? This generation WILL be held accountable for the world we pass on to the next and how will any of us look our grandchildren in the eye and say “The government didn’t make us do it,so we didn’t. ” And I cannot help but consider that many of the local’s in the yacht maintenance industry (including the contractors) are missing an opportunity. There are no flies on the Railstar system in that it presents environmental AND economic implications. Lately while chatting with another contractor who also specializes in clear coat maintenance of cap rails as I do,  the conversation got around to the Railstar system and how I believed it gives a competitive edge to tradesmen who qualify their professional constitution when seen showing respect for the water. His response was as follows:”When I look over the side of the boat and see all the “s_*_* “ which the tide already brings in, I don’t know why we as contractors should be expected to use any containment system”.
    Believe it or not, this logic is still more common than not! Please; people THE MEDITERRANEAN NEEDS OUR HELP
    I have always enjoyed the following Canadian proverb:
    “When you slap still water, don’t be mad if you are unable to see your reflection.”

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