Wednesday, May 4, 2011
A bill banning copper-based boat paint is moving through the California state legislature.
The legislation is sponsored by state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego).
The bill passed a senate committee and now heads to the Senate appropriations committee.
Senate Bill 623 would prohibit boat manufacturers from selling recreational vessels with copper-based paint after 2014 and would prohibit recreational or pleasure boat owners from using or applying copper-based paint after 2018.
Kehoe said there is significant copper contamination in San Diego Bay and marinas throughout California.
"It actually happens the most where the boats are moored," said Kehoe. "So the marinas the boats sit still and the copper leeches out of the paint and into the water. It's toxic to fish and little organisms in the water so it creates a very unhealthy environment."
She said the legislation gives paint manufacturers time to create non-toxic alternatives and for recreational boaters to replace copper-based paint with ones that are safer for the environment.
Military and commercial vessels would be exempt as would those carrying paid passengers.
Kehoe said while the copper paint prevents algae, barnacles and other species from attaching to a boat's hull, the copper in it pollutes the water and is toxic to marine life.
Scientific research has identified copper as a significant water pollutant and a threat to aquatic life.
Last year, Kehoe authored a related law to eliminate the use of copper in vehicle brake pads sold and installed in California.
Kehoe said the copper hull boat paint bill has opposition.
"There are a lot of technical issues to be dealt with; what the alternative product would be like, how much will it cost, will it work as well," said Kehoe. "I don't think it's as difficult as the brake pad bill, but it's going to have some challenges and we're going to have to keep working on it."
She said San Diego Bay has been identified in several studies as having excessive amounts of copper in marinas and the problem is growing statewide.