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Surviving an EPA inspection at your boatyard

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Today’s environmental regulations that apply to marinas and boatyards are voluminous and complex. Yet, daily attention to details and further training can make life easier for the marina industry to comply with environmental regulations.


Spill, Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations require plans to prevent (and respond to) oil discharges that could affect navigable waters, their tributaries and U.S. or adjoining shorelines, said speakers at the International Marina and Boatyard Conference in January in Atlanta.

Products subject to regulation and containment methods at boatyards and marinas, regardless of whether they have a fuel dock, include: petroleum and fuel oils; mineral oils; sludge; synthetic oils; oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil; animal fats; oils; and greases and vegetables, said Ted Walden, a federal on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s emergency response branch.

SPCC regulations date to the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments and have become more sophisticated every year since the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989.

If a marina stores 10,000 gallons or less, there is no reason for a professional engineer to approve or write an SPCC plan. Plans should list all containers including oil type and volume, a site diagram and analysis of spill pathways, secondary containment methods and procedures, inspection procedures, training, security, containment method in tanker truck loading/unloading areas, overspill safeguards on tanks, and procedures for drainage of rainwater from containment structures.

Secondary containment requires containment and/or diversionary structures to prevent a discharge. Containment methods include dikes, berms, and retaining walls. Curbing, culverting, gutters or other drainage systems; wires, booms or other barriers and spill diversion and retention ponds.
Specific containment methods, such as closing dike valves can also prevent unnecessary spills. 
Walden wielded one photo of a container that was plugged with a golf tee.

“That’s the crazy kind of stuff we see,” he said. “Keep open valves and dikes closed to prevent unnecessary spills and fix leaks on containers properly. Loading areas need some form of containment, too.”

A sister regulation to SPCC is the Facility Response Plan (FPR), which requires certain boatyards to prepare and submit to discharge response plans to the EPA. This plan applies only to a subset of SPCC regulated boatyards that are non-transportation related sites. These sites distribute, drill, refine, store, transfer and use oil products and could discharge oil into navigable waterways or adjoining shorelines and aggregate more than 1,320 gallons of oil in aboveground containers in 55-gallon containers or greater or more than 42,000 gallons of oil in underground tanks.

Some containers are exempt from the regulation, such as containers less than 55 gallons, permanently closed containers and wastewater treatment tanks, process vessels and motive power containers.

Lessons learned
William Munger of Conanicut Marine Services in Jamestown, R.I., highlighted specific problems with the transportation of hazardous materials without a license or permit and other common violations.

Generators of hazardous waste are not licensed to transport wastes along the highway between boatyards without a license.

“If you generate a small amount of waste in one boatyard, marina, shipyard or maintenance facility and you put the material in a truck and drive it to another facility for hazardous waste storage, then you are out of compliance unless you have a specific permit to transport hazardous waste,” Munger said.

Failure to profile waste streams is another problem and each generator should be tested at least once.

“If the generator knows exactly the mixture or pure waste stream without testing, then there is an argument not to test,” Munger said. “Generally, you want to physically send the sample of each type of waste out to an EPA approved lab for testing once.”

Waste haulers create an electronic file with all of the profiles data for a facility if they are provided the specifics on the waste characteristics prior to shipment or disposal.

“Some states, like Rhode Island, do not require a waste permit,” Munger said. “But info is reported on how many gallons of water are used to wash each boat.”

Rhode Island and Connecticut have regulations in place that require management of power washing or process marinas at each marina and boatyard. Rhode Island’s regulation becomes effective January 1, 2009. Contaminated water must be captured and either treated on-site under an approved system or sent off-site for treatment.

“Failure to label containers properly for satellite storage and documented training are primary violations found by the state regulators or USEPA,” Munger said.

All new hires at Knight & Carver Yacht Center in San Diego are required to take a weeklong training class on the environmental impact of the chemicals used. “OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) calls it the right to know (dangers in the yard),” said Bob Lee, environmental health and safety director at Knight & Carver. “The employees learn the impact of the chemicals on the environment and themselves.”
Anything that touches the ground in a boatyard can be hazardous. “It’s not necessarily what we’re using, it’s the combination if the rain falls,” Lee said. “Rainwater is now a hazardous material due to the nature of work done in the yard and that’s why water control in San Diego doesn’t want rainwater in the bay.”

Picky, picky
Labeling may seem like a nitpicky issue, but USEPA and state regulators take a firm stance on labeling since an improperly labeled container may end up in a non-regulated disposal site such as a municipal waster landfill rather than a Subtitle C Hazardous Waste landfill or equivalent.

“Dumpster diving by USEPA has taught us that nothing is off limits,” Munger said. “Marinas and boatyards are liable for the contents of the dumpsters on-site regardless of who generated the waste.”

Lists of hazardous materials and details of the waste list are required annually, at a minimum, and should include: items such as spent paint fillers; spent resins/paints/coatings; epoxies and varnishes; spray paint cans; grease; sealants; solvents; chlorinated solvents; strippers; oil filters; used oil for burning on-site vs. waste oil; waste fuels such as gas or diesel; fiberglass wastes; antifreeze; contaminated rags that are dripping versus non-dripping; sharps; blood or bodily fluids; contaminated clothing or materials.

When to notify of an oil spill

When you have an oil spill (discharge) in a harmful quantity, it must be reported to the EPA.

Harmful quantities include films, sheens and discoloration of the surface water or adjoining shorelines, as well as sludge or emulsion beneath the surface of the water or anything violating water standards.

Having minimum spills in the yard and containing them is a continual part of the process of work in the yard and a focus of training at Knight & Carver. “We try to eliminate and reduce spills,” Lee said.

An open can is a potential hazard and self-closing containers are preferred for that reason. Lee says he walks through the yard daily and is harder on employees than any EPA inspector.

“The walkthrough inspection (by EPA) should be smooth if you are doing what you are supposed to everyday and keep that mindset.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue.



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