UW News

July 23, 2015

Free oil-spill prevention kits for Washington boaters

UW News

Recreational boaters and commercial fishing boats in Western Washington can get free oil-spill reporting and cleanup kits this summer as part of a new campaign to prevent spills in Puget Sound.

Washington Sea Grant, based at the UW, along with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, the Washington Department of Ecology and the state’s Clean Marina Program have partnered to give out more than 1,000 free kits this summer. Each kit contains oil-absorbent pads, a 15-inch bilge sock, gloves, a trash bag for disposal, and literature on how to report and prevent spills.

“These kits are intended to be a teaching tool,” said Aaron Barnett, a boating outreach specialist with Sea Grant. “The goal is to give people information on how to report spills, but also to have the supplies they need on board to prevent their own spills.”

Over the past 10 years, more than 19,000 gallons of oil pollution have spilled into Puget Sound, with three quarters of that coming from recreational boats and commercial fishing vessels. From 2005 to 2014, more than 1,710 oil spills were reported or investigated. Nearly half came from recreational boats and almost a third were from commercial fishing boats.

Oil tankers only contributed 1 percent of spills during that period.

“The boating community is actually pretty up on this, for the most part,” Barnett said. “This will just help and be a small step in the right direction.”

Washington Sea Grant has worked in oil-spill prevention for about 20 years, and this is its first partnership with the Coast Guard to tackle this issue, Barnett said.

Interested boaters will need to schedule a free vessel safety examination at a port or marina before receiving an oil-spill kit. Call John Milczewski with the Coast Guard Auxiliary for more information: 360-739-1310.