Hull Cleaning and Boat Washing
IT’S A FACT: It is illegal to perform underwater cleaning of hulls with soft, toxic coatings (ablative and sloughing). You can face a fine of up to $10,000. (RCW 90.48.080, WAC 173-201A)
Most boats used in marine waters have hulls coated with soft toxic paints (ablative or sloughing) to keep aquatic organisms from attaching. These coatings contain toxic chemicals that are poisonous to salmon and aquatic life. Toxic chemicals are released when you disturb or clean soft toxic paints.
If your boat hull has soft toxic paint, do NOT clean it in or near the water, or near a stormdrain.
Know your hull’s surface before you clean it. If it has soft toxic paint, take your boat out of water to a facility that collects all discharges and debris. To do this work yourself on land, use a tarp and vacuum sander to collect all debris, and dispose of it properly.
What’s the alternative?
New, hard-coatings and epoxy-based hard paints are now available for boat hulls. They provide a slick surface and they are safe for in-water cleaning. The surfaces discourage organism growth, last longer, and minimize harm to the environment. Best of all, these surfaces can improve your boat’s performance and save fuel costs. Check whether one of these coatings could be right for your boat. For more information about non-toxic boat hull products, go to University of California Coastal Resources and view the non-toxic demo page, and access publications. Watch a video from San Diego.
Washing Your Boat
The Department of Ecology has determined that some in-water hull cleaning may cause pollution (violation of water quality standards). Cleaning hulls coated with soft toxic paints (ablative or sloughing) causes the release of toxic concentrations of copper. Ecology has also determined that it is not practical to issue NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits to divers who clean hulls commercially. Ecology has produced an advisory for divers and boat owners which contains this information and should be posted at several areas in a marina.
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.