Petroleum Containment

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.

It is, therefore, necessary to minimize the amount of fuel and oil from boat bilges and fuel tank air vents entering marina and surface waters.

Vessels 26 feet and longer are required to display a U.S. Coast Guard oily waste discharge placard. Clean Water Act, Section 311 10.

Marina and Yacht Club Best Management Practices

  1. Promote the installation and use of fuel/air separators on air vents or tank stems of inboard fuel tanks to reduce the amount of fuel spilled into surface waters during fueling.
  2. Encourage all marinas and yacht clubs to disallow the fueling of vessels on the premises except at approved fuel stations.
  3. Initiate an absorbent pad exchange program in which slip holders can exchange used pads for new ones.
  4. Insert a clause in the leasing agreements requesting boaters use oil-absorbing materials in their bilges.
  5. Prohibit the use of detergents and emulsifiers on fuel spills.
  6. Provide a collection site for used oily absorbents, used oil, oil filters (and any other petroleum products) when applicable.

Boater Best Management Practices

  1. Fill fuel containers on land to reduce the chance of fuel spills into the water.
  2. Avoid overfilling fuel tanks by leaving the tank 5 to 10% empty or use a catch device for the overfill discharge from fuel tank.
  3. Perform all major engine maintenance away from surface water. Any maintenance work on engine must be done in compliance with rules and regulations governing the marina.
  4. Avoid fueling boats from portable fuel containers while in the marina.
  5. Use petroleum absorption pads while fueling to catch splash back and the last drops when the nozzle is transferred back from the boat to the fuel dock.
  6. Keep engines properly maintained for efficient fuel consumption, clean exhaust, and fuel economy. Follow all manufacturer’s specifications.
  7. Routinely check for engine fuel leaks and use a drip pan or absorbent pads under engines.
  8. Do not pump any bilge water that is oily or has a sheen on it. Use materials that either capture or digest oil in bilges. Examine these materials frequently and replace as necessary.
  9. Exchange used oil absorption pads if possible, or dispose of them in accordance with petroleum disposal guidelines.
  10. Report oil and fuel spills to the marina office and the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center 800.424.8802 and Office of Emergency Services in your jurisdiction immediately.

Score Sheet – Page 2: Petroleum Containment