Due to the systemic risk of petroleum and oil in our water systems, there are several federal laws pertaining to the proper disposal of these fluids. Under The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, any expulsion of oil or oily substances into navigable water or water in the contiguous zone is illegal and carries up to a $5,000 penalty. Of course, you can always find ways around the law, but as we’ve learned in previous blog posts, the detrimental effects of oil in the water vast, so you shouldn’t need any additional coercion to deter you from dumping.
In addition, The Clean Water Act forbids you to use soap, dispersants or emulsifiers in an attempt to clean a spill. Unauthorized use of these cleaning agents carries a hefty penalty—as much as $25,000. If you accidentally spill any oil or see a fellow boater leaking gasoline or dumping mercury engine oil, the best M.O. is to call the Coast Guard and give a detailed report of the spill.