Coast Guard, Dept. of Ecology issue oil spill advisory

Boating season has arrived! The Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology would like to remind boaters to keep fuel from getting into Washington waters. Remember that all oil spills matter, regardless of size. Petroleum products are toxic to the environment and a single quart of oil has the potential to foul up to 100,000 gallons of water.

In 2006, the Coast Guard received 756 reports of pollution in the Puget Sound and spent $148,000 from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to mitigate and recover oil in the water. Also in 2006, The Coast Guard’s environmental outreach program, Sea Partners, shared the message of marine pollution prevention with over 270,000 people at boat shows, maritime fairs, and school presentations. Below are some tips for avoiding fuel spills.

Before beginning to fuel:

* Dock the boat securely and ask all passengers to exit.
* Do not allow anyone to smoke or strike a match.
* Check all fuel lines, connections, and fuel vents.
* Turn off anything that might cause a spark-engines, fans, or electrical equipment.
* Shut off all fuel valves and extinguish all open flames, such as galley stoves and pilot lights.
* Close all windows, ports, doors, and other openings to prevent fumes from entering the boat.
* Remove portable fuel tanks and fill them on the dock.

While fueling:

* Keep the nozzle of the fuel-pump hose in contact with the tank opening to prevent producing a static spark.
* Avoid spilling fuel into the boat’s bilge or the water.
* Know the capacity of your tank and only fill it to 90% because fuel expands.
* Hold an absorbent towel or rag under the nozzle to catch drips and be sure to dispose of fuel-soaked absorbents properly.

After Fueling

* Wipe up any spilled fuel.
* Open all windows, ports, doors, and other openings.

Even the smallest spills need to be reported to the National Pollution Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. Failure to do so can result in a hefty fine. The Washington State Department of Ecology should also be notified at 1-800-645-7911.

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