Coast Guard asks public to mark barrels used to secure personal docks and piers

Blue and white barrels are used by homeowners and businesses along Lake Ontario to secure and mark their piers and docks after Spring 2017 weather events caused elevated water levels. The Coast Guard is asking the public to mark barrels with a large, red "X" so that they can be easily identified as non-hazardous if barrels become adrift. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Blue and white barrels are used by homeowners and businesses along Lake Ontario to secure and mark their piers and docks after Spring 2017 weather events caused elevated water levels.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Coast Guard is requesting that members of the public who are using barrels and drums in order to weigh down piers and docks, to place a large, red “X” on those objects so that they can be identified as “non-hazardous” if they become adrift, Friday.

With the increased water levels throughout the region and along Lake Ontario and tributaries, many homeowners are using barrels to mark their docks and to help weigh them down. This is also helping to mark potential hazards posed by otherwise submerged and unseen docks.

By placing a large, red “X” on the barrels, Coast Guard crews can quickly identify it as a non-hazardous container if it becomes adrift and allow its origin and potential contents to be resolved more quickly, mitigating the need of further specialized investigation.

If any barrels become adrift and the contents are unmarked, by law, the Coast Guard responds to them as a potentially hazardous substance since the contents are unknown and could possibly contain dangerous chemical or petroleum products. Significant diligence is required for processing unidentified containers, which can possibly include hiring a hazardous material contractor to recover the barrel out of the waterway and to verify there is no risk to the public or environment from the contents.

The cost can exceed $5,000 per container. Additionally, Coast Guard personnel are required to stay on scene with the container. This would potentially take personnel away from other local emergency responses or search and rescue cases in the region.

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