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Legislation could make Maine a leader in solving the expired marine flare disposal problem

by Scott Croft 21 Feb 05:02 PST
What to do with old marine flares? Maine may have figured out an answer to the problem. © U.S. Coast Guard

Maine state representative Joyce "Jay" McCreight, Maine House District 51, has introduced an act that would establish and promote a system of safe disposal for expired marine flares, potentially solving an age-old disposal issue for the Pine Tree State's 100,000-plus registered recreational boat owners. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) applauds the introduction of the LD 430, the Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares Act, and supports its passage.

A hearing to discuss the bill is slated for Monday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. in the Public Safety Committee Room at the Maine State House in Augusta. BoatUS urges recreational boaters to attend in support of the bill.

Due to the mandated 42-month expiration date from date of manufacture, most boaters need to replace their boat's emergency flares after three seasons of boating. However, without a system to safely accept and dispose of outdated flares, they continue to present a safety and storage hazard for boat owners. In normal operation, flares can burn as high as 2,900 F, and they commonly contain perchlorates that are a groundwater contaminant and health hazard.

"If passed, the act would make Maine a national leader on an issue that has vexed boaters, government, and environmental advocates for decades," said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. "It solves the huge dilemma of how to safely dispose of these hazardous materials. We applaud Rep. McCreight for this smart solution and urge the Maine Legislature to move it forward to final passage."

The act would employ, on a voluntary basis, a network of local fire departments, marinas and municipalities, as well as groups that organize flare-disposal events to become collection points for the "timely pickup of the collected expired marine flares." It would also provide guidance on short-term storage of flares, develop a statewide education campaign, and require nonpolluting disposal of "all types of expired marine flares." The program would be available to recreational and commercial vessel operators.

Although the current Maine legislative session runs until mid-June, this legislation could come up for a vote in the next few weeks. If Maine boaters are unable to attend the Feb. 25 hearing in Augusta, BoatUS urges them to contact their state representative to ask them for their support and offers an easy way to do that by clicking here.

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