Technical Information For Boaters

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Petroleum Control and Spill Prevention

A single gallon of fuel can contaminate 750,000 gallons of water. The cumulative effect of multiple small spills can have a serious impact on our environment. Fuel can be easily spilled into surface waters from the fuel tank air vent while fueling a boat, and oil can be easily discharged during bilge pumping. Gasoline spills can be a safety problem because of gasoline’s flammability. Hydrocarbons are dangerous to aquatic plants and animals both at and below the water surface. Vessels 26 feet and longer are required to display a U.S. Coast Guard oily waste discharge placard. Clean Water Act, Section 311 10.


Actions to Take While Fueling:

  • Fuel your boat on the upland.
  • Listen to your boat. The tank gurgles before it’s full.
  • Keep your hand on the nozzle. Do not use the handle stop.
  • Use a vent collection device to capture escaping fuel.
  • If your tank overfills, use rags for cleanup. When finished cleaning, give soiled rags to the marina operator for proper disposal.
  • Do not hose off spilled fuel into the water.
  • Notify marina management immediately if a fuel spill occurs.
  • Do not use soaps or detergents on spills. This makes the problem worse and violates federal law.

Actions You Can Take for Bilge Oils:

  • Use a proper preventative maintenance schedule to reduce oil contamination.
  • Do not discharge bilge water overboard while on the water.
  • Keep engines tuned and in fine working condition.
  • Regularly check seals, gaskets, hoses, connections and fittings for leaks, drips and damage.
  • Clean and maintain bilges. Do not use detergents for cleaning.
  • Use absorbent pads to remove oil from the bilge. Oil absorbent or bio-remediating bilge booms work great.
  • Before pumping bilge water, use water/oil separators or absorbents to soak up any loose oil.
    • Trailer your boat to an area that provides containment for bilge and boat plug discharges.
  • Recycle or properly dispose of used oil and absorbent material.