Free oil spill response kits going out to Puget Sound boaters

Partners Andy Gregory of Puget Soundkeepers, Aaron Barnett of Washington Sea Grant, and LTJG. Trevor Siperek, USCG team up for the summer campaign to prevent small oil spills in Washington waters.

Partners Andy Gregory of Puget Soundkeepers, Aaron Barnett of Washington Sea Grant, and LTJG. Trevor Siperek, USCG team up for the summer campaign to prevent small oil spills in Washington waters.

Are you prepared to cleanup an oil spill from your own boat, or to possibly assist another recreational boater who is spilling oil? If the answer is no, then at the very least you’ll want to get your hands on a free oil spill response kit.

Oil spills are often thought of as originating from the large commercial shipping vessels that ply our waters, but it’s the little guys who are spilling or leaking thousands of gallons into local waterways — and the numbers are somewhat surprising. Nineteen thousand gallons of pollution has spilled into local waters over the past 10 years and 75 percent of that has come from recreational boaters and commercial fishing vessels. Only one percent of spills in the past 10 years have come from oil tankers or bulk carries, which probably makes sense, as they are under strict guidelines as to how they handle their cargo.

To combat spills from recreational boats, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound has teamed up with Washington Sea Grant, the Washington Dept. of Ecology and Washington’s Clean Marina Program to raise awareness and provide a free oil clean up kits for local boaters.

More than 1,000 kits containing two oil-only absorbent pads, one 15-inch bilge sock, a pair of protective gloves, a trash bag for disposal and literature on reporting and preventing spills are being given out during vessel safety checks or by request. Interested boaters should call John Milczewski at (360) 739-1310 to schedule a free vessel safety examination and receive a free small oil spill response kit from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

More from the USCG release:

Each kit contains two oil-only absorbent pads, one 15inch bilge sock, a pair  of protective gloves, a trash bag for disposal and literature on reporting  and preventing spills. Photo courtesy of Washington Sea Grant.

Each kit contains two oil-only absorbent pads, one 15inch bilge sock, a pair
of protective gloves, a trash bag for disposal and literature on reporting
and preventing spills. Photo courtesy of Washington Sea Grant.

Over the past 10 years, more than 19,000 gallons of pollution has been spilled into Puget Sound with 75 percent coming from recreational boaters and commercial fishing vessels.

As part of a summer long education and awareness campaign to prevent small oil spills, a partnership between Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, Washington Sea Grant, Washington Dept. of Ecology and Washington’s Clean Marina Program, is providing boaters with the oil spill kit, which will be distributed for free by Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotillas during free vessel examinations in Western Washington.

From 2005 to 2014, 1,710 separate individual spills were reported or investigated. Of these, 812 or 47 percent were from recreational vessels and 477 or 28 percent were from commercial fishing vessels. Oil tankers and bulk commercial carriers accounted for 13 total cases or 1 percent of all oil spills during that time.

“Based on oil spill data over the last decade we have learned oil tankers and heavy bulk carriers, on average, spill quantities of pollution measured in mere ounces, however, we have found commercial fishing vessels and recreational vessels to be the largest contributors of oil pollution in our waterways,” said Capt. Joe Raymond, commander Sector Puget Sound and captain of the port. “Because of the large number of vessels in Puget Sound, we have been working with our state and local partners to develop these oil spill kits to increase awareness about oil spills and notification requirements among commercial fishing vessel and recreational boating community.”

The partnership hopes to distribute more than 1,000 free kits throughout Western Washington this summer. Each kit contains two oil-only absorbent pads, one 15” bilge sock, a pair of protective gloves, a trash bag for disposal and literature on reporting and preventing spills. Interested boaters should call John Milczewski at (360) 739-1310 to schedule a free vessel safety examination and receive a free small oil spill response kit from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Washington Sea Grant is based at the University of Washington and provides statewide marine research, outreach and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. Visit www.wsg.washington.edu for more information or join the conversation at www.facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

Washington Sea Grant can be contacted through: Aaron Barnett, aaronb5@uw.edu, 206-616-8929 or MaryAnn Wagner, maryannb@uw.edu, 206-616-6353.

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