A Course for Safe Boating
Boating Law, Navigational Rules and Navigational Aids
Oil and Oily Waste
It is against the Federal Pollution Control Act to pump or discharge any
kind of oil into navigable waters. Even a small amount of oil accidentally
spilled can quickly spread over a large area. You are responsible for cleanup
costs and for correcting any environmental damage caused by your fuel
spill, under the California Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990.
Oil or oily waste may not purposely be drained into the bilge of a boat.
All oily waste and other liquid pollutants must be kept in a container until
One pint of oil can create a slick covering about one acre. Wind, tides,
temperature and the type of oil all affect how wide the slick spreads.
It is illegal to discharge packaging material (called dunnage) in inland
waters and waters within 25 miles of shore. Packaging material includes
cardboard, Styrofoam, paper, plastic or any similar material.
OILY WASTE PLACARD
If your boat is 26 feet or longer, it
must display a 5-inch by 8-inch oily
waste placard near the bilge pump
control station. The placard must list
the federal requirements.
Federal and state law makes it
illegal to discharge oil or oily waste
into or upon navigable waters, and
into zones next to the navigable
waters, if the discharge causes a
film or sheen upon, or discolors,
the surface of the water, or causes
a sludge or emulsion beneath the
surface of the water. Violators are
subject to substantial penalties.
Recreational boaters should call
1-800-OILS911 if they witness or
encounter an oil spill.