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MRAA Asks States to Support Completion of EPA Study on Copper Bottom Paints

Wednesday, August 14, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Larry Innis
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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas joined with other marine groups in a grassroots campaign requesting the US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Quality to complete the saltwater criteria document for copper that would be based on new data and the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM). This new standard would allow for more accurate marine and estuarine water quality criteria to be developed to protect the environment and would create more scientifically defensible regulatory actions in coastal states.

MRAA sent a letter to the appropriate state environmental departments in every coastal state asking for their support.

A more precise method of determining copper toxicity levels is desired for the marine industry due to the great uncertainty and misguidance surrounding the use of copper bottom paints and how these paints truly effect the environment. Boat bottom paints that contain copper are widely used as the most effective means of preventing bio-fouling of hulls. MRAA believes 80-90% of commercial vessels use copper based paints because there is simply nothing better on the market. Recreational boaters use this type of paint more than any other.

Marinas traditionally haul boats and pressure-wash bottoms to remove algae and other marine growth. This activity requires a special permit under the Clean Water Act. The permit review process has often resulted in marinas stopping pressure washing or the installation of expensive equipment and/or storm water runoff treatment systems. If a marina can have its permit levels for copper based on the BLM, MRAA believes it can more readily make decisions as to treatment options or even if a treatment system is needed.

The BLM established water quality system would protect the environment with scientific-based data and would not burden the boater or the marina/boat yard.

MRAA asked the state governments to request the US EPA place a high priority on the project.