New Zealand leads the way on anti-fouling

Most DIY antifoulers will be unaffected
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Over the last three years the New Zealand government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has undertaken a significant reassessment of all the antifouling paints used in New Zealand. The aim has been to ensure that both the environment and those applying the paints are properly protected, preferably without unduly compromising the effectiveness of the antifouling paints.

The good news for the owners of moored boats is that, while antifouling manufacturers, retailers and boat yards will be affected (some quite seriously) by the resulting new rules, there will be little impact for the owners of most moored pleasure boats.

One of those heavily involved in the consultation process with the EPA was Mike O’Sullivan, managing director of New Zealand marine and commercial paint manufacturer Altex Coatings Ltd.

He says New Zealand is 'leading the way' with this reassessment of antifouling paints and their application.

'We know that many other countries are looking closely at what is happening here,' he says.

Highly supportive of the EPA’s aims of protecting both the environment and those using antifouling paints, he believes the outcome of the review is a good one, despite the fact it will have a significant impact on his company.

'I think we will look back on this in a year’s time and think that it was a progressive and logical step forward in today’s health and safety conscious world.'

To conform to the new regulations, two of Altex’s current antifoulings will require formulation changes. In the case of their Altex Yacht & Boat No.10 (a 'semi-hard' antifouling), this will need to happen by 2015. For their Altex Yacht & Boat No.5 antifouling, one of the country’s most widely used pleasure boat antifouling paints, a minor change to the formulation will also be required. O’Sullivan says this change will have no affect on the product’s antifouling performance and does not need to be in place until 2023.

The company’s other antifoulings: Pettit Vivid (a brightly coloured, low copper content antifouling paint able to be used on all substrates, including aluminium) and the water-based Pettit Hydrocoat, require no changes to their current formulations.

The new rules also require antifouling paint manufacturers and importers to provide more detailed data and safety information on the label of every can of antifouling. In addition, each can will also need to be accompanied by a Safety Data Sheet, either attached to the can or provided by the retailer. Both requirements take effect from January 1, 2014, just three months away.

Those applying antifouling (especially professionally) and those providing the space for it to be applied will also be affected by the new regulations.

From July 1, 2015, anywhere antifouling is being scrubbed down, sanded or painted will need to be clearly designated as a Controlled Work Area. Within this Controlled Work Area, ALL waste will need to be contained so that it cannot enter the environment. This includes all sanding dusts, sanding liquids and anything else that is produced by the application or maintenance of the antifouling.

Once contained, this waste must then be collected and disposed of in accordance with very strict regulations.

All Controlled Work Areas will also require detailed signage (large enough to be clearly visible from 10 metres away). This will need to state that antifouling maintenance and/or application is taking place; that, at all times, everyone within the Controlled Work Area must be wearing the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment); and display the name and contact details of the person who has established the Controlled Work Area.

Those intending to spray apply antifouling will also need to install suitable screens around the boat to ensure that no antifouling paint is able to escape the Controlled Work Area and affect any other person or boat or any waterway or part of the surrounding environment. Everyone involved in the spray application must also wear an appropriate respiratory PPE.

Professional boat maintenance yards and hard stands (such as Orams Marine in Westhaven) already do all of this and so are unlikely to be too seriously affected. However, some yacht club yards and smaller hardstand areas will need to work hard to ensure they are compliant by the 2015 deadline.

Because most boat owners who apply their own antifouling do so using brushes and rollers (as opposed to spray painting), they will not be too badly affected by the changes.

They will, of course, no longer be able to use some of the more informal ways of applying antifouling, such as on careening grids, slipways or beaches. However, this will have little effect on most, especially in larger centres, as local and regional councils have long banned such practices anyway.

DIY-ers will also, mainly for their own health, no longer be allowed to dry sand antifouling, all sanding will need to be wet. In addition, Ron Brown, Altex’s pleasure marine manager, recommends that they use a pole sander, to provide some distance between themselves and the dust and debris created by the sanding.

All those applying or doing maintenance on antifouling will also need to wear the appropriate PPE including full suit overalls (including head coverings), safety glasses or goggles, suitable protective gloves and closed-in footwear.

Brown says DIY-ers should also be aware of some key 'do nots' when re-applying antifouling.

'These are not because it is against the law (although, in some cases, it is) but because it will adversely affect the performance of the antifouling paints.'

He says people should not try to apply antifouling coatings between tides, should not add additives or excessively thin the antifouling, should not over- or under-build the film thickness (use too much or too little antifouling) and should not try to re-launch their boat before the antifouling is completely dry.

'Provided one is sensible, follows the new rules and is happy to apply antifouling with brushes and rollers (as 90% of DIY-ers do), the new regulations will have little affect on most boat owners,' he says.

'Properly applied, good quality antifouling will still give very good protection for up to two years (and in some cases considerably longer).

'That is good news for us, for New Zealand pleasure boat owners and for the environment.'

Brown says those unsure what the new rules will mean for them can call the Altex Help Line on (0800) 429-527, send an email to sales@altexboatpaint.co.nz. They can also contact the EPA on (04) 916-2426 or at info@epa.govt.nz.

Summary of new antifouling regulations:

DIY brush and roller application still ok

From January 1, all antifouling cans will come with detailed data and safety information and be accompanied by a Safety Data Sheet

No antifouling permitted on careening grids, slipways or beaches

Proper protection to be worn at all times (includes head coverings, safety glasses or goggles, suitable protective gloves and closed-in footwear

From July 1, 2015 all antifouling areas to be designated as Controlled Work Areas and all waste contained and disposed of correctly

Those spray-applying antifouling to wear an appropriate respiratory system

More information: EPA: (04) 916-2426 or info@epa.govt.nz or sales@altexboatpaint.co.nz.
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