California board takes aim at copper paint use

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Copper paint is being cited as a pollutant in Marina del Rey by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The board released a report on Nov. 5 saying copper is at unsafe levels in the harbor and seeks to reduce copper discharge from boats by 85 percent during the next 11 years, according to The Log newspaper.

Copper has been the active ingredient in antifouling bottom paint for decades, but it has come under fire in recent years. States such as Washington have banned its use, favoring non-biocide and zinc alternatives.

Copper and other pollutants “affect the beneficial use” of Marina del Rey for water contact recreation, marine habitat, wildlife habitat, commercial fishing and sportfishing, and shellfish harvesting, The Log reported the board saying.

The board’s report identifies Marina del Rey as an “impaired waterway” and follows up on standards put into effect by the water quality control board in the Los Angeles region in 2006.

According to the original standards for what the board considered sufficiently clean water as dictated by the Federal Clean Water Act for Marina del Rey, the harbor is identified as impaired for containing chlordane, copper, lead, zinc, PCBs, DDT and other substances.

Greg Schem, a Marina del Rey boatyard and fuel dock owner, told the publication he disputes the permissible amount of copper threshold.

“The problem is that there is quite a bit of controversy as to whether this standard is the correct one to use,” Schem told The Log.

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