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Engineering Services Best Practices and Blog

Marine Services: Decontaminating a Vessel

Posted by Mark Campanale

By Eric Chebator, Environmental Specialist

In a faulting economy pleasure boats and working vessels are being cast off into abandonment. Usually a money-pit for extra income, boats are now being found to be deserted to avoid disposal and storage fees. An estimated 12,000 dollars can amount for removal costs of just one sunken sailboat. California alone spends about 500,000 dollars each year removing orphaned recreational boats. These boats rotting away in boatyards or floating up onshore begin to leak oil and degrade hazardous bottom paint. Boat bottom coating usually contains Chromium, Lead, and Mercury among other hazardous chemicals which can lead to a dangerous environmental fate. Marine services such as proper decontamination, recycling, and decommissioning of these vessels can lead to a positive environmental impact. Costs for dismantling and recycling of vessels are usually only 15-20 dollars per foot. That is nothing compared to the estimated 1500 dollars for vessel abandonment fines!  Best management practices for decommissioning and disposing of vessels include:

• Emptying the boat's fuel tanks for reuse or disposal of used gasoline as hazardous waste

• Remove and recycle/dispose of the following boat parts and fluid:

  o Used oil

  o Used antifreeze

  o Boat engine (can be recycled as scrap metal) 

  o Any metals that can be recycled (aluminum, lead, zinc)

  o Refrigerants

• Remove all mercury containing devices (i.e., some electronic equipment, bilge pump switches, old ship's barometers) and handle as hazardous waste.

• Decontaminate the hull with pressure washer and dispose of the wastewater as hazardous waste

Once the vessel is completely stripped it can then be cut into smaller pieces and disposed of in a local landfill. Proper permits and equipment is required for some of these decontamination procedures so be sure to contact a professional environmental services firm prior to disposal.

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The Dangers of Lead Contaminated Soil

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Ross Hartman, Corporate Service Director

Lead Prevention

Some products that contain lead exhibit hazardous characteristics that can be harmful to your health. Typically industrial manufacturing activities with poor house-keeping practices will lead to releases to the subsurface. Some products that contain high levels of leachable lead are:

• Waste Oils
• Fly Ash
• Paints
• Foundry Sands
• Metal Slag

What can happen if you do not decontaminate soil that contains lead?

Both organic and inorganic contaminates can come from sources including agricultural runoffs and industrial waste materials. Soil pollution can result in water pollution if lead spreads to groundwater, or if soil runoff reaches a water source. Lead in the soil can also be a hazard for children who may be exposed to impacted areas. Furthermore, people who walk impacted areas track the contaminated substance into their homes with little to no awareness of the impact. Great care must be taken when handling or treating lead soil to prevent further cross contamination from the work place to the home.

According to the EPA, you can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust or soil. Lead is extremely harmful to children and adults, and can lead to nerve disorders, memory problems, high blood pressure, and muscle pain among other consequences.


What happens if I need my soil decontaminated?

Soil remediation is conventionally performed by excavating the impacted soil and disposing of the material at a landfill. More and more we see the necessity to treat soil on-site through soil stabilization. Essentially, the lead in the soil needs to be stabilized by effectively changing the pH and eH levels. Treatment of lead contaminated soil effectively reduces the leachability. This allows property owners to benefit lower disposal costs or potentially reuse the material on-site.

Contact the National Lead Information center ( for more information on lead hazards and prevention.


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