Boat repair and maintenance activities create wastes that are considered hazardous and require proper handling. Managers of boatyards and marinas are liable for all hazardous waste on their premises. Typical wastes which are classified as "hazardous" include oil, grease, diesel fuel (waste oil), oily bilge water; contaminated soil; gasoline and water (ignitable if flash point is less than 140°F); solvents, such as acetone, kerosene, mineral spirits; strong acids and alkalines (corrosive if below 2 or above 12.5 pH); and paint chips or leftover paint (often toxic, if marine paint).

If you operate a boatyard, you can protect your property by:

  • Specifying good waste management practices as requirements in contracts with your customers.
  • Posting signs, and setting up a special waste disposal area for these wastes. Each type of waste must be stored in a closed container, labeled as Hazardous Waste with the name of the waste, and dated when the waste was first put in the container.
  • Checking containers for leaks at least weekly. If the waste is stored outdoors, it must be in containers on a surface which has no cracks or gaps and there must be secondary containment to catch any leaks or spills. It is a significantly greater cost to you if your property becomes contaminated and you have to pay for a clean-up contractor.

There is paperwork involved. Anyone who produces, transports, treats, or disposes of hazardous waste must notify the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). To notify MassDEP, determine your "generator status" (see below), then download, complete and submit a registration form: 
Hazardous Waste Generator Registration Form (March 2015)  pdf format of Hazardous Waste Generator Registration Form
doc format of                             Hazardous Waste Generator Registration Form                 

Note: Your hazardous waste status will determine which regulations apply.

The volume of hazardous waste which a boatyard or marina can accumulate before shipping - and the length of time it can be held - depends on the volume generated in any peak month. Hazardous waste must be shipped with a Massachusetts licensed hazardous waste transporter to a licensed facility unless the boatyard or marina qualifies as a Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG).

Facilities classified as VSQGs can self-transport their waste to a household hazardous waste collection (if the sponsor will allow VSQGs to participate) or to another generator. If you are taking your waste to such a collection, you should obtain a receipt. Keep records of waste shipments (typically a hazardous waste manifest) on file for a minimum of three years.

For more information about hazardous waste, its storage and disposal, or regulatory requirements, call the MassDEP Hazardous Waste Line at 617-292-5898. 

You also may want to review: 
Summary of Small Quantity Generator (SQG) Requirements, July 2014  pdf format of Summary of Small Quantity Generator (SQG) Requirements
doc format of                             Summary of Small Quantity Generator (SQG) Requirements

Hazardous Waste Generator Status

  • Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG): less than 27 gallons/month
  • Small Quantity Generator (SQG): 27-270 gallons/month
  • Large Quantity Generator (LQG): more than 270 gallons/month

If you sell oil at retail, you are subject to the following law: 
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 21, Section 52A

Automobile Service Stations, etc. to Install and Maintain Waste Oil Retention Facilities; Use by Customers; Cleaning

Every automobile service station, marina serving powered watercraft and retail outlet selling automobile lubricating oil shall, no later than June 30, 1974, install on the premises and maintain waste oil retention facilities, properly sheltered and protected to prevent spillage, seepage or discharge of the waste oil into storm or sanitary sewers or into the waters of the Commonwealth. Every such station, marina and other such outlet shall be required to accept at no additional charge, waste oil in quantities not exceeding two gallons per day from any individual with sales receipts or other proof of purchase from such outlet. Every such station, marina and other such outlet shall periodically remove or have removed the accumulated waste oil so as not to violate any water pollution control or other statute or regulation. (1973, 1162.)

Questions & Answers About Hazardous Waste

  • How do I manage paint chips?
    Verify the ingredients in the paint, if possible. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is the best source of information. If the paint is metal-based (lead, mercury, arsenic, etc.), catch the chips in a tarp and dispose as a hazardous waste. Observe health and safety recommendations in removing the paint.
  • During application how can I minimize my paint wastes?
    Wash your gun in a container to prevent water or ground contamination. Choose quality solvents that can be re-used. To reduce the volume of waste solvent, keep two tubs, one clean and one dirty. Wash gun in the dirty tub before the clean tub. Another option is a commercial gun washing system.
  • What should I do with empty containers which have held a hazardous material?
    If the contents of the container have been poured off and less than one inch of residue remains, the container is considered "empty" and can be disposed as a solid waste. Metal containers may be recycled.
  • Is spent antifreeze (ethylene glycol) a hazardous waste?
    Toxicity tests on drained antifreeze are not conclusive that this is a hazardous waste. However, antifreeze should not be disposed down the drain. Do not dispose on the ground or leave in open containers. Antifreeze is toxic. Its sweet taste will attract animals if left uncovered. Best disposal options are on-site recycling and off-site recycling. For information about recycling call MassDEP at 617-292-5898.
  • Why can't other waste be mixed with waste oil?
    Any mixture of a non-hazardous waste with a hazardous waste makes the whole a hazardous waste and changes the composition. Mixing other waste with waste oil will therefore add to the cost of disposing of the oil. Each type of waste should be stored in a separate container and labeled as to its contents.
  • Are oily or solvent-soaked rags or wipers a hazardous waste?
    No, if the rags are not saturated, e.g. if squeezed, you have no more than one drop of liquid, the rags can go to an industrial laundry for recycling or in the regular trash.
  • What if we have a spill?
    A spill of 10 gallons or more of oil requires you to call MassDEP immediately at 888-304-1133. Uncontrolled oil can threaten coastlines, waterfowl, and contaminate soils and water supplies. There is a specific "reportable quantity" for other hazardous materials. When in doubt, call MassDEP.

For Additional Information

  • MassDEP Hazardous Waste Assistance: 617-292-5898
  • Massachusetts Clean Marina Guide: Mass. Coastal Zone Management, 617-626-1220
  • Marina Environmental Performance Guide: U.S. EPA, 617-918-1836