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Oceanside Bilge Pump Makes Dent In Coastal Pollution

Oceanside harbor is now offering boaters free use of a bilge pump that prevents fuel from being dumped into the sea.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Bay Foundation

People stand near the dockside bilge pump in Oceanside that is now free to use by local boaters, Dec. 11, 2015.

Oceanside harbor is now offering boaters free use of a bilge pump that prevents fuel from being dumped into the sea.

Bilge water is that foul stuff that collects inside the bottom of a boat or a ship. Occasionally it has to be pumped out to guarantee the ship remains buoyant. The problem is bilge water typically contains fuel from the engine, and pumping it into the sea causes coastal pollution.

That's why Oceanside harbor now has one of three on-shore bilge pumps in Southern California that separates the oil from the water.

Victoria Gambale is with the Bay Foundation that helped pay for the pump, which was manufactured by Keco. She said oil is hazardous to marine life, and the bilge pump gives boaters an alternative to using their shipboard pumps.

She said they pull up to a dock and alongside the pump station and put the end of a long hose into the bilge of their boat. They start pumping, the liquid is removed from the boat and transferred to a nearby facility.

"If you ever have salad like a vinaigrette, you know that oil and water don't mix," said Gambale. "So the oil floats to the surface and it's separated from the water that's below it."

The water goes to the sewer system. The oil is eventually taken to be re-refined. She said the pump offers a way for San Diego's north coast boaters to learn about the harm that oil does to the ocean environment.

"And just also offers a convenient and free resource to them to become environmental stewards," she said.

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