Coast Guard reminds boaters of the dangers, and penalties, of using detergents in the water

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsHOMOSASSA RIVER, Fla. — Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg’s Response Department personnel witnessed a deckhand using detergents to try and disperse a fuel spill in the Homosassa River, Wednesday.

Two oil pollution response experts from the sector’s Response Department were dockside near a local fish market in Homosassa and witnessed a deckhand off a nearby fishing vessel pouring dish detergent into the water surrounding the vessel trying to disperse the oil in the water near his boat.

“Due to an increase in oil sheen reports in the river, the Coast Guard will continue to increase our presence in this area until the issues of the recurring sheen reports are resolved,” said Lt. j.g. Jessica Paxton, from Sector St. Petersburg Response Department. “Using a dispersant such as dish washing detergent is not an authorized method or procedure for the removal of discharged oil unless approved by the Federal On Scene Coordinator.”

Any person who fails to comply with the provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations is liable for a civil penalty up to $42,500 per day of violation or an amount equal to three times the costs incurred by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for clean-up operations.

Penalties per violation usually increase with the number of offenses, added Paxton.  For example:

  • 1st offense $1,000
  • 2nd offense $2,500
  • 3rd offense $5,000 with a maximum penalty of $11,000.


For detailed CFR regarding the regulation of pollution in navigable waterways click here.

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