After several years, California legislation targeting copper-based antifouling coatings has just one step to go before becoming law.
But that law would be far less aggressive than its unsuccessful predecessors, which sought an outright ban on some of those coatings.
The California State Legislature has sent to Gov. Jerry Brown AB 425, a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, to require the state to address water pollution caused by copper-based anti-fouling hull paint on recreational vessels.
The bill directs the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to complete by Feb. 1, 2014, its work to evaluate and recommend whether the paint should be subject to increased state oversight and how best to mitigate its potentially harmful effects on aquatic environments..
The Assembly approved the bill Sept. 6 on a unanimous 73-0 vote to concur with an amendment to add a co-author taken in the Senate. The bill passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee by a unanimous vote on June 20.
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California's AB 425 would require the Department of Pesticide Regulation to determine if copper-based antifoulings should be registered as pesticides.
Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the bill.
Supported by the American Coatings Association, the legislation was introduced in February.
"While ACA has had no direct communication with the governor's office, we are hopeful that the governor will sign the bill, since it had bipartisan support though both houses," John Hopewell, Director of International Affairs for Science, Technology & Environmental Policy for ACA, told PaintSquare News in an email on Sept. 25.
The amended bill proposes that by Feb. 1, the Department of Pesticide Regulation determine a leach rate for copper-based antifouling paint used on recreational vessels and recommend mitigation measures.
Copper in CA Waters
Many groups have targeted the use of copper in antifouling paints as contributing to adverse water conditions in some California marinas. Currently, California law requires every manufacturer, importer and dealer of any pesticide to obtain a certificate of registration from DPR before the pesticide is offered for sale.
In the Port of San Diego, all eight marina basins have been found to have an overload of copper and the state has ordered at least one, Shelter Island Yacht Basin, to reduce its copper loading by 76 percent by the year 2028.
Atkins' bill addresses ACA's concerns by keeping the text of the proposed bill concise and allowing the DPR flexibility to make recommendations for other mitigation measures, according to ACA.
ACA says it will icontinue to work closely with the bill's author, staff and sponsors, as well as DPR.
Ban Effort Dropped
The bill's predecessor, California SB 623, had proposed to ban the use of copper in antifouling paint for use on pleasure craft. ACA and its Antifouling Workgroup advocated against SB 623, and the bill's sponsor dropped it in June 2012 after ACA submitted a letter underscoring new evidence that could change how copper-impaired waters are defined.
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The bill directs DPR to determine by Feb. 1, 2014, a leach rate for copper-based antifouling paint used on recreational vessels.
SB 623 would have mandated a ban of these coatings for recreational vessels after 2019 and required manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative when replacing copper in marine antifouling paint, even though alternatives were not defined and have not been proved as effective or as safe as the copper-containing coatings, ACA says.
ACA's letter referenced the Environmental Protection Agency's review of the Biotic Ligand Model for marine waters and DPR's reevaluation of copper as an approved biocide in antifouling paint. ACA says it believes that EPA's BLM might show that the copper threat to water has been overstated.
ACA and its Antifouling Workgroup say that copper is released from antifouling paints at a controlled rate and excessive underwater hull cleaning contributes a high percentage of the release of copper into marinas. ACA also contends that modern antifouling copper-based coatings are designed to be used without frequent cleaning.
In 2011, members of the Antifouling Workgroup received a data request from the DPR for a protocol to accurately determine the impact of underwater hull cleaning on overall copper release from antifouling paint.
“Clarification of Leach Rate Determination, Notice of Additional Data Requirements and Meeting Regarding the Reevaluation of Copper Based Anti-fouling Paint Pesticides” sought, among other things, "a protocol to accurately determine the impact underwater hull cleaning has on overall copper release from antifouling paint," according to ACA.
The Antifouling Workgroup developed and submited the "In Water Hull Cleaning and Passive Leaching Study Protocol" to DPR in June 2012 and coordinated the funding of the study among copper suppliers and copper-based antifouling registrants in California.
The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of underwater hull cleaning methods on several types of antifouling paints and to quantify the amount of copper that enters the water from passive leaching. A final report of the study will be published in the Journal of Biofouling.
Contact ACA's Marie Hobson or John Hopewell for more information.
Editor's Note: This article was updated at 11:10 a.m. ET Sept. 25 to add information from the American Coatings Association.
On Wednesday (Sept. 25), John Hopewell told PaintSquare News in an email: "While ACA has had no direct communication with the governor's office, we are hopeful that the governor will sign the bill, since it had bipartisan support though both houses."