It’s always been a question of how to properly dispose of expired flares beyond dropping them off for your local fire department to deal with. No single state or national agency is charged with this task.
The Sea Tow Foundation hopes to alleviate the questions of how to handle both not needed and expired flares with a flare disposal program.
The non-profit foundation — started in 2007 as a way to call attention to safe boating and avoid preventable boat accidents — is the recipient of a grant via the U.S. Coast Guard Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund that will help it kick off a pilot program to properly dispose of flares.
According to the USCG, all boaters in coastal waters, the Great Lakes and waters that are adjacent are required to carry flares. In addition, USCG requirements say that flares expire 42 months after date of manufacture — leading to potentially millions of flares needing disposal every season.
Still in the planning stages, the Sea Tow Foundation says their pilot program would kick off in Florida with a mobile incinerator marked “Flare Disposal Station” to be potentially transported to “events around the state,” according to a press release.
“While flare disposal is not part of a boater’s legal responsibility, it does affect the environment when not disposed of properly,” said Sea Tow Foundation executive director Gail R. Kulp. “Not disposing of flares properly can also impact the safety of boaters if expired flares are stored on board boats.”
More information about the flare disposal program can be found here.