Outdoors

Free oil spill kits can help curb Puget Sound boating pollution

A partnership of organizations hopes to hand out 1,000 small oil spill kits to boaters in Western Washington this summer to help curb pollution in Puget Sound.
A partnership of organizations hopes to hand out 1,000 small oil spill kits to boaters in Western Washington this summer to help curb pollution in Puget Sound. Courtesy

In an effort to curb pollution from recreational boats, a partnership of agencies will be giving away oil spill kits in Western Washington.

The free kits will be handed out by U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotillas during free vessel examinations.

During the last 10 years, more than 19,000 gallons of pollution has been spilled into Puget Sound. Of that, 75 percent came from recreational boaters and commercial fishing vessels, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

From 2005-14, 1,710 separate individual spills were reported or investigated, according to the Coast Guard. 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, just 1 percent of all oil spills during that time.

“Based on oil spill data over the last decade … we have found commercial fishing vessels and recreational vessels to be the largest contributors of oil pollution in our waterways,” Capt. Joe Raymond, commander Sector Puget Sound, said in the release. “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 kits are part of a summer long education and awareness campaign put together by Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, Washington Sea Grant, the state Department of Ecology and Washington’s Clean Marina Program.

The organizations hope to distribute more than 1,000 kits this summer.

Each kit contains 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.

Interested boaters should call John Milczewski at 360-739-1310 to schedule a free vessel safety examination and receive the kit from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

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