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Archive: Washington State wants to phase out copper for leisure boats

Washington State is proposing to phase out copper-based antifouling coatings for recreational vessels.

The American Coatings Association (ACA), which represents coatings manufacturers, is fighting the proposal against the popular biocide, and ACA representatives have testified against any ban.

ACA fears that the bill, while relatively limited in its current form, could “serve as a terrible precedent for other U.S., foreign and international authorities to follow,” the association said in a recent statement.

According to the bill, however, a 2007 DOE study of copper concentrations in marinas found antifouling paints on boat hulls to be the primary source of copper in the water. The bill states: “The legislature finds that copper used in antifouling boat bottom paints are slowly released into the water by waterborne vessels and contribute to both water and sediment pollution. The legislature finds that contamination from boat bottom paints containing copper is a significant contributor to water pollution going into Puget Sound and other waters of the state.

“Boat bottom paints containing copper or other toxic substances may have unintended lethal effects on other aquatic organisms, including salmon,” the measure says.

The legislation has been prompted by concerns raised by the Puget Sound Alliance (PSA) over the impact of copper specifically on salmon fry. Heavy exposures in laboratory testing have shown reductions in the salmon's sense of smell, which might make them more vulnerable to predators.

The bill was the subject of a public hearing in January that resulted in some easing of the provisions and stretching out of the implementation schedule. Under the current version, approved Feb. 15:

  • “Recreational water vessels” are defined as those used primarily for pleasure or leased, rented, or chartered to a person for pleasure use. This does not include vessels subject to U.S. Coast Guard inspection, those engaged in commercial use, or those carrying paying passengers.

  • After Jan. 1st, 2017, no manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or distributor may sell or offer for sale in Washington State any new recreational water vessel with antifouling paint containing copper.

  • After Jan. 1st, 2020, no antifouling paint containing more than 0.5 percent of copper may be offered for sale in Washington State.

  • By Jan. 1st, 2017, the state’s Department of Ecology must survey manufacturers of boat paint sold or offered for sale in the state to determine the types of antifouling boat paints that are available there. The findings must be presented to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2018.

Working with other state natural resources agencies, DOE must increase education efforts regarding recreational water vessel hull cleaning to reduce the spread of invasive species. This includes a review of best practices that consider the type of antifouling paint used and recommendations regarding appropriate hull cleaning that includes in-water methods.

Violations would carry a civil fine of up to $10,000 per day per violation.

Source: Paint Square, Wednesday, February 23th, 2011




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