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 However, without a system to safely accept and dispose of outdated flares, they continue to present a safety and storage hazard for boat owners.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. They are not something to just toss in the trash, and finally a solution is being put forth in the USA that could offer leadership in solving the expired marine flare disposal problem.
Maine state representative Joyce “Jay” McCreight, Maine House District 51, has introduced an act – the LD 430, the Safe Disposal of Expired Marine Flares 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.
“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.”
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. Recreational boaters are encouraged to attend in support of the bill, or to submit their backing online.
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.