Red, Blue, Green Blue

By: Jane Swan, The Green Blue

Green Blue

If 2012 was the year of bilge socks, fuel collars and phosphate free washing up liquid, then 2013 is going to be the year of tarpaulins and, we hope, technology as The Green Blue takes another look at ways to minimise diffuse pollution, and the problems associated with copper concentrations in particular.

At this time of year, as boats slowly start to come out of hibernation, there is a mountain of hard work ahead to get your boat back in shape and much of that revolves around the nasty job of applying antifoul. Scrubbing down the hull and applying a new coat is not only tough on you, but can be tough on the environment too. Since the banning of TBT in 1987, most antifouls are now copper or zinc based. Some of the compounds found in these antifouls can accumulate in marine organisms, and can find their way into marine wildlife further up the food chain. Antifoul coatings contain biocides; the whole point is that they leach into the environment and discourage the settlement of organisms so by default and design antifoul is harmful to marine life.

However, there are a few steps that we can take to keep residual antifouling from boat maintenance and pressure washing out of the water and so reduce the concentrations of copper and biocides in marine sediments.

Tarpaulins are an easy and inexpensive solution, for skirting the hull when sanding and scrubbing and for catching flakes and drips when painting. Most marinas and boatyards would prefer not to have their sites covered with red and blue patches and certainly don’t want loose material ending up going down any nearby surface water drains, so it’s worth asking if they have tarpaulins to borrow.

A handful now do, thanks to The Green Blue’s diffuse pollution project with the Environment Agency, with MDL Hythe Marina Village, MDL Cobbs Quay, Lymington Yacht Haven, Plymouth Yacht Haven, Lymington Berthon and Bucklers Hard happy to have a few to share.

A growing number of marinas have wash down facilities which collect residues and run-off instead of letting it run back into the marina; with new facilities being installed and innovative technologies being developed and trialled as we speak (watch this space!)

And bear in mind that antifouling as well as topside paints, varnishes and solvents have to be disposed of as hazardous waste in the hazardous waste bins, as do used brushes, rollers and trays. If you wash your hull off on a slipway look at putting down a loop of rope to catch any paint particulates that can then be swept up (and put in the hazardous waste bin). If you use scrubbing piles, only scrub off the fouling and not the residue paint.

If you are prepared to try something completely different for 2013, take a look at low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) copper free antifouling, or alternative hull paints which now exist such as vinyl, silicone or Teflon or even consider an ultrasonic system.

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