Chapter 7: Water Cleanliness and Small Vessels

Toxic Substance Disposal and the Refuse Act

Dumping garbage and chemicals into the water is destructive to the environment. For this reason, the Refuse Act of 1899 made it illegal to discharge or dispose of any refuse matter of any kind into United States waters. This act also applies to oil, gasoline, and any other liquid pollutant.

Discharge of Oil Prohibited

Another initiative to curb pollution and damage to the environment is the mandate for all vessels over 26 feet to display a Save Our Seas (S.O.S) placard. These placards state that all boat operators are responsible for not discharging oil or oily substances into the water or into the bilge. Instead, operators must keep the oil on board in a proper receptacle until one can dispose of it at a recycling facility. Boat operators are strictly prohibited from dumping discharge into the waters of the U.S. 

If a genuine accident does happen and one end up spilling oil into the water, one must contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 1-800-424-8802 to report the spill. Failure to do so could result in civil penalties of up to $25,000 or criminal penalties which may be as severe as $50,000, up to five years of imprisonment or both.

The U.S. Coast Guard enforces these regulations to prevent pollution and contamination of our waters. The U.S. Coast Guard may issue a Notice of Violation for minor pollution violations or any small-scale oil spills (under 100 gallons).

Always be respectful of the environment. Following the pollution regulations, can keep our waters clean and one out of trouble.