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Keeping Copper Out Of San Diego Bay

Audio

Aired 1/5/10

The Port of San Diego wants to eliminate the use of copper-based paint on the hulls of recreational boats in San Diego Bay. The goal is to reduce harm to marine life.

The Port of San Diego wants to eliminate the use of copper-based paint on the hulls of recreational boats in San Diego Bay. The goal is to reduce harm to marine life.

A new list from the state Water Resources Control Board shows several bodies of water in San Diego County are severely polluted, including parts of San Diego Bay.
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Above: A new list from the state Water Resources Control Board shows several bodies of water in San Diego County are severely polluted, including parts of San Diego Bay.

Copper-based paints are used to prevent the buildup of marine growth on the hulls of recreational boats, but the copper also leeches into the water. Too much copper in water has been found to damage marine life.

The Board of Port Commissioners passed a resolution last month supporting ongoing research to find non-toxic hull paint alternatives to replace the copper.

"And that's what we're challenging all of the coating suppliers with right now is to find some alternatives that work not by incorporating a kind of toxic ingredient," said Karen Holman, who is with the Port of San Diego's Environmental Services Department.

She said the Port District received a $190,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 to identify non-toxic alternatives to copper-based hull coatings.

Holman said the primary tasks include testing alternative coatings on panels and on boat hulls.

She said Phase One of the study, the panel testing, was conducted during the summer of 2008 and has been completed. Boat hull testing, or Phase Two, started in April 2009 to and ends next December.

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