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View Poll Results: Given the same situation would you have reported the spill to the authorities?
Yes 11 55.00%
No 9 45.00%
Voters: 20. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-10-2008, 08:47   #16
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I would imagine anyone who runs a boat has done that at one time or another. I have...a few times. I usually get out the oil sorbs and the boat hook and clean up those few drops. So did I report the sheen as the law states?..no. Because I took care of my own mess. In fact had I taken the time to call the Coast Guard, that localized oil spill would have drifted off. Sometimes laws cannot be written to cover all possible scenarios and therefore sometimes you just have to do what you think is best.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:21   #17
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At our yacht club, we have a group of liveaboard members who assist our Port Captain (member who is responsible for all thing floating). From time to time we have boats that issue oily residues from the bilge. Our club's permit to exist requires us to take action to prevent oil spills and contamination. So, when we see a sheen on the water we try to identify the source, if it is from our own waters. If we can localize the source, we contain the spill with an oil boom, which we store for these contingencies. Once the boom is deployed, limiting the spread of contamination, we board the boat (we don't need to secure permission to do so in our club by-laws), and inspect the bilge, distributing oil-absorbent "diesel diapers" in the bilge and surrounding water. The owner is notified, photos taken, and the owner pays the costs for replacement containment supplies. Invariably, the owner objects, claiming it wasn't his boat, it just couldn't be, not HIS boat. We offer to forgo the charge this time, but the next time, we will simply call the Coasties. They pay up, one way or the other.

The single-most contributing issue is that of water in the fuel tank allowing corrosion of the welds in the aluminum or stainless steel (iron tanks are largely a thing of the past with modern boats). The result is pinhole leaks of diesel into the bilge. Compounding the problem is a leaking shaft log that floods the bilge with seawater, picking up the diesel, oil drips from the engine, etc. The bilge pump then shoots out a stream of "rainbow-colored" water that floats away down current or downwind.

We tell our members to keep fresh diesel diapers in the bilge and under the fuel tanks and engines. Some folks listen.
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:01   #18
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oil slick

You didn't give any real details of the spill but, just for fun, if we can assume the slick was:

1/2 a kilometer long
25 meters wide
and had a "Rainbow" appearance

then the spill would be:

500x25=12,500 sq meters in area

a "Rainbow" sheen is about 5 microns or 0.000005 meters thick so

12,500x0.000005=0.0625 cubic meters of oil or 62 liters or 16.5 US Gallons

I would definitely report this. That's a half tank of diesel in most sailboats.

-or maybe it was smaller-

100 meters long
15 meters wide
"rainbow" appearance

100x15=1500x0.000005=0.0075
0.0075 cubic meters of oil or 7.5 liters or 1.98 US Gallons

I'd need to have a beer and think about this one. Mostly because the environmental laws are so lopsided and the cleanup would be soooo expensive for that poor guy that I'd really have to dislike him before I reported the spill or know he knew about the oil in the bilge and didn't care about it. Then again it IS 2 gallons of diesel. Maybe that is allot.

-maybe it was smaller yet-

30 meters long
3 meters wide
"rainbow" appearance
(A long shiny streak basically from someones dirty bilge)

30x5=150x0.000005=0.00075
0.00075 cubic meters of oil or 0.75 liters or 0.198 US Gallons

That's about 2 beer cans (25 oz) - I think I'd be ticked at the guy but, would wait and say something to him or the dockmaster.

If the laws were clear and fair then nobody would break them. It's not quite the same but, the city I live in and several around here discharge raw sewage into the river but, if I were to anchor next to the outfall and pump my tanks out I'd be heavily fined. How does that make sense? There is a junkyard near me than you can literally watch oil and antifreeze run into a adjacent creek and would you believe that the EPA has a group that grinds up old tires right in the middle of that yard (because the owner wouldn't do it and the mosquitoes are so bad) and they basically look the other way. Are THEY going to fine me for spilling a liter of oil into the water? Anyway, Guess it would depend on the circumsances of each spill and I cannot answer the survey without knowing more.

That's my $0.02
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Old 12-08-2011, 15:14   #19
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Re: Reporting an oil slick

Year's ago I had a substantial accidental diesel spill. Triggered all sorts of folks to help and we got the clean-up crews right on it. About 200 gallons. Interesting that at one point in the effort to deal with it, the Coast Guard considered opening the containment boom and explained that diesel does break down biologically fairly quickly and does little environemental damage relative to many pollutants -- it's more of a bother.

Bottom line for me? If you were sure it was diesel, not gasoline (which could blow up the guy's boat and maybe a couple others....) I wouldn't have reported that one that evening and would have waited until morning.
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Old 12-08-2011, 15:28   #20
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Re: Reporting an oil slick

gasoline evaporates just about completely (maybe some tiny tiny fraction disperses slighty) or evaporates completely (my view)
If it was gasoline I would not even think twice.
If oil I dont like to see it but I also remember seeing the massive oil slicks caused all the time by the industrial oil producers. I know they like to say how one gallon contaminates some massively huge quantity of water. To me a small oil spill is relatively insignificant.

For some perspective read about this, natural oil seeps into the oceans
Natural Oil 'Spills': Surprising Amount Seeps into the Sea | LiveScience
Quote:
The infamous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, one of the largest in U.S. history, dumped more than 10 million gallons of crude into Prince William Sound.

While the amount of oil and its ultimate fate in such manmade disasters is well known, the effect and size of natural oil seeps on the ocean floor is murkier. A new study finds that the natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, Calif., have leaked out the equivalent of about eight to 80 Exxon Valdez oil spills over hundreds of thousands of years.
Natural crude oil is STILL oil.

Scientists Find That Tons Of Oil Seep Into The Gulf Of Mexico Each Year

Quote:
Twice an Exxon Valdez spill worth of oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico every year, according to a new study that will be presented January 27 at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
People want to make money off your spills so they scare you with massive fines into maintaining your boat, but really it almost feels like terrorism waged against boaters the environmental laws being what they are.

And this here
Quote:
Oil that finds its way to the surface from natural seeps gets broken down by bacteria and ends up as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. So knowing the amount of fossil fuel that turns to carbon dioxide naturally is important for understanding how much humans may be changing the climate by burning oil and gas.
my point is dont try to destroy someones life by being overly zealous when it is not really a good reason to get so excited.

So do you adhere to the spirit of the law or the letter of the law...
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Old 12-08-2011, 15:28   #21
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Re: Reporting an oil slick

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Originally Posted by captainscs View Post
Interesting that at one point in the effort to deal with it, the Coast Guard considered opening the containment boom and explained that diesel does break down biologically fairly quickly and does little environemental damage relative to many pollutants -- it's more of a bother.
Not sure what the value is of re-opening a 3 year old thread (or of continuing it) but for the sake of accuracy...

diesel fuel is the most toxic of all forms of fuel oil. whoever in the Cg told you otherwise is simply wrong.

Gasoline contains the largest quantity of the most toxic components of petroleum but volatilizes quickly and therefore most of these components enter the air rather than the water.

Diesel contains slightly less than gasoline but is much less volatile and as such, can and does allow the largest percentage of toxic volatiles to dissolve, emulsify or entrain in the water column.

The higher fractions of petroleum have progressively less volatiles and therefore less toxic components to cause water column contamination.

For what that's worth...

Regarding "People want to make money off your spills so they scare you with massive fines... "

This makes no sense - the government (or more precisely Congress) who establishes these statutes containing fines has no financial interest in cleanup and if you think the fines compensate for the environmental effects of spills, you might want to review the data.
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Old 12-08-2011, 15:40   #22
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Re: Reporting an oil slick

Another vote for not reporting, although I guess it depends on how major the spill. All of us want the waters to be clean and all of us have probably had "little" accidents.

The governement agencies are very quick to condemn and fine the individual boater with crippling fines for pollution, but when it's them polluting they all duck and weave and no government employee gets any financial penalty at all. And to appear to be proactive, they introduce more red tape on everybody.

Greg
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Old 12-08-2011, 15:44   #23
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Re: Reporting an oil slick

I was on a 150 foot private yacht the pumped 3-5 gllons overboard early morning by accident (leaking from tank) a neighbor called the CG, firedepartment, and other agencies, then knocked on our door and told us, then started taking photos ofit. We called the CG, reported the incident and started cleanup. We spent 1 hour cleaning up the mess. The CG thanked up for cleaning up the mess and being honest with them with what happened, we showed them the fuel logs and such. the fine was NOTHING. The CG understand that sometimes this happens, it is when you try to cover it up that there is a problem, or you have been totally dishonest with them.
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Old 12-08-2011, 16:03   #24
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
As far as whether one should report it, it kind of depends on what benefit you expect to derive from reporting. It sounds as though the spill was too small to clean up or even contain. You implied but didn't say if you were sure it was petroleum or perhaps veg oil which is not illegal - my wife accidently spilled a bottle of olive oil which found it's way to the bilge and out the boat - looked bad but noting illegal or harmful. Since no one was around, and you took no steps to contain or clean it up yourself, what value is there in reporting it?
You apparently haven't looked at the CFR's regarding oil spills lately. With the advent of bio-based fuels the CFR's were changed to include oils of a biological origin in addition to petroleum based products in their definition of oil spills. Spilling olive oil or any other vegetable oil is now the same as dumping engine oil, at least in the USA.
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Old 12-08-2011, 16:32   #25
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

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Originally Posted by Captain Bill View Post
You apparently haven't looked at the CFR's regarding oil spills lately. With the advent of bio-based fuels the CFR's were changed to include oils of a biological origin in addition to petroleum based products in their definition of oil spills. Spilling olive oil or any other vegetable oil is now the same as dumping engine oil, at least in the USA.

Can do cite or reference the definition change in the CFR to which you refer in which vegetable oil is defined as a oil under the OPA or any other statute?
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Old 12-08-2011, 16:51   #26
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

right here
Facility Response Plans (FRP) | Region 5 Superfund | US EPA


Quote:
What types of oil are regulated?
Oil is defined as an oil of any kind or in any form, including, but not limited to,
vegetable oil and animal fats
petroleum,
fuel oil,
sludge,
oil refuse, and
oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.
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Old 12-08-2011, 16:56   #27
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

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Because the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which amended the Clean Water Act, broadly defines the term "oil," the sheen rule applies to both petroleum and non-petroleum oils (e.g., vegetable oil). The regulation also provides several exemptions from the notification requirements.
Reporting Oil Spills: Everything You Need To Know
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Old 12-08-2011, 17:28   #28
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

So if I make a big batch of popcorn on my boat, take it up to the cockpit and a gust of wind blows a couple of kernels out of my hand, they land in the water and cause a "sheen" from the vegetable oil, I'm a felon?

Yeesh.
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Old 12-08-2011, 17:38   #29
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

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Originally Posted by sdowney717 View Post
WOW! Let's back up here. The link to which you refer is for Facility Response Plans , i.e., contingency plans. The OPA was last amended in 1996 and makes no mention nor does it include vegetable oils. The FRP reg has no bearing on the statutory prohibition on oil spills and does not change the statutory definition. Having worked in the environmental law field for 30+ years, I would challenge anyone to verify the inclusion of vegetable oils.

I think before some folks go off thinking popcorn spills are sanctioned, we need to rely on the statute and regs rather than some subordinate and clearly unrelated regulation
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Old 12-08-2011, 18:02   #30
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Re: Reporting an Oil Slick

we were fined in 1998 for having had 1 CUP of ob mix fall into sd bay from an outboard----seems uscg fly over saw it at 0530 and we were served warning and ticket at 0600. didnt even know the ob had a leak until it happened that morning-didnt leak the night before when i put it to bed.
NO i wouldnt call unless it was HUGE and covered entire bay. i WOULD find owner and notify owner of boat of the problem, yes.
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