What to Do In the Case of a Spill at the Fuel Dock

That rainbow sheen on the water is the telltale sign of an oil or fuel spill. Before you grab that bottle of soap (which is illegal and can bring a fine), follow these steps to legally and responsibly respond to a small spill.

If you have spilled or discharged a petroleum product:

  • Identify and stop the source of the leak.
  • Notify the marina for assistance.
  • Call the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
  • Contain spill with oil absorbent pads or booms.
  • Properly dispose of used or saturated absorbents.

When reporting a spill, be prepared to give the following information:

  • Location of the incident.
  • Cause or source of spill.
  • The type of fuel spilled.
  • The amount of fuel spilled.
  • Level of danger or threat.
  • Weather conditions at location.

When you call the National Response Center, they will assess the situation based on the information provided. For large spills, the Coast Guard will respond with personnel, proper equipment and clean-up supplies. In some jurisdictions, a state agency or fire department may also be called to assist.

A word about clean-up: Your marina should have an emergency spill kit on hand and should be trained to respond to minor fuel spills. In the event of a large spill, do not attempt to clean it up by yourself. Each spill should be handled differently, so it is best to get advice from your marina and the U.S. Coast Guard.

©2010-2011, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water