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Copper Hull Paint Gets Reprieve in CA

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

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As with Mark Twain, reports of the death of copper-based hull paint may have been greatly exaggerated—at least in California. Washington State, on the other hand, is a different story.

In California, State Sen. Christine Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat, has quietly shelved her bill aimed at limiting the use of copper-based paints on the hulls of recreational boats, the San Diego Union-Tribune has reported.

Kehoe told the newspaper Tuesday that she would hold up the bill for a year, to give boat owners, coatings manufacturers and other stakeholders more time to work out a compromise.

“We are making progress, and we will be ready to move the bill next year,” said Kehoe, who did not post the decision on her web site.

Boat, Coating Groups Object

SB 623, patterned after a measure in Washington State, had drawn the wrath of boat owners and boating organizations nationwide. They feared that the bill would set a precedent that could spread to other states and other types of vessels.

The clock has stopped on a copper paint ban in California.

The American Coatings Association also had roundly criticized the Washington State measure.

California legislators had already extended the bill’s implementation deadlines by a year. The measure had passed the Senate and was awaiting approval from the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The current version of the bill would permit only low-leaching copper paints starting Jan. 1, 2015. If the bays and rivers remain polluted, recreational boaters could not use any paint containing copper or other biocides after Jan. 1, 2019.

Boating interests say the current generation of non-copper-based antifouling paints may not be affordable, effective or sufficiently available.

Copper Reduction Mandates

On the other hand, legislators are under pressure from the San Diego Unified Port District and water-quality regulators to drastically reduce copper and other biocides in the region’s waters.

“The best way to keep copper out of the water is to not let it get there in the first place,” Kehoe has said.

Washington Measure Signed

In Washington State, however, anti-copper forces have prevailed, and Gov. Christine Gregoire has signed into law a bill that will eventually phase out the use of copper-based antifouling paints on recreational vessels.

But that phase-out won’t happen soon. The measure, which took effect July 22, requires the state’s director of the Department of Ecology to establish a committee by Jan. 1, 2016, to assist in implementing the law. By Jan. 1, 2017, the department must survey coatings manufacturers to determine what types of antifouling paints are available at that time and how they affect marine organisms and water quality.

Those results would be reported to the legislature by Dec. 31, 2017, and the legislature would enact specifics at some point after that.

Nevertheless, ACA, which represents coatings manufacturers, have said that the Washington measure sets “a terrible precedent” for antifouling paints nationally and even internationally.


Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Laws and litigation; Marine; Marine Coatings; Regulations

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