Coast Guard urges proper disposal of Emergency Beacons

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard reminds boaters to properly dispose of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons when they are no longer of use.

EPIRBs are devices intended to save lives by transmitting a signal to rescuers with the position of troubled boaters. When they are improperly disposed of they can cost the Coast Guard valuable time and taxpayers thousands of dollars in resource costs.

The International Maritime Organization and the Coast Guard recommend that unwanted EPIRBS be disposed of by either removing the battery and shipping the unit back to its manufacturer or rendering the unit inoperable by demolishing it. The EPIRB should also be unregistered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in any case when the unit has been disposed of or transferred to a new owner.

“The Coast Guard treats every distress signal we receive as an actual cry for help, and improperly discarded EPIRBS activating in landfills or the ocean divert costly resources integral to providing safety to mariners,” said Paul Webb from the Coast Guard 17th District Response Department.

The Coast Guard routinely refers cases involving the non-distress activation of an EPIRB (either as a hoax, through gross negligence, carelessness or improper storage and handling) to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC can prosecute cases based upon evidence provided by the Coast Guard, and will issue warning letters or notices of apparent liability or fines up to $10,000.

By following the rules for proper EPIRB disposal, boaters can save themselves a lot of trouble and the Coast Guard an unnecessary trip to the dump. For more information on EPIRBS, visit http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/beacon.html.

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