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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