NYMPP: Section 1 - Mechanical Activities
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Used crankcase oil,
automatic transmission fluid, power steering fluid and hydraulic fluid are all considered used oil and can be mixed and recycled together.

New York Sea Grant's
Marina Pollution Prevention Web Site

Section 1:
Mechanical Activities
- Upland Engine Operations

Potential Environmental Impacts

Working on boat engines has potential environmental impacts. If engine fluids are not well managed, they may be transported by stormwater into the marina basin, where they can harm fish and other aquatic life. If certain fluids are mixed, they may become subject to hazardous waste requirements and be more expensive to dispose. Waste fluids from upland engine operations may include: engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, hydraulic fluid and antifreeze, all of which are recyclable liquids. Many of these fluids can be hazardous, and may pick up contaminants (e.g., lead from bearings) during use in an engine. Outboard test tank water may also become contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and other pollutants from prolonged use.

Best Management Practices

  • Try to do major engine work in a designated area with an impermeable surface away from the water and under cover, if possible.

  • Work areas should have an impermeable surface that can be kept clean by vacuuming or sweeping, not hosing. Liquid spills should be cleaned up using absorbent materials.

  • Never pour waste fluids down the drain.

  • Recycle fluids whenever possible. In general, the purer the waste stream, the higher the value to the recycler. Never mix gasoline, antifreeze, or chlorinated solvents into used oil because it may cause the used oil to become a hazardous waste, therefore requiring higher disposal costs.

  • Outboard test tank water can be kept clean by using a pump and filter system (click here) or a bioremediation product which uses microscopic organisms to break down petroleum into water and carbon dioxide. Keeping test tank water clean can help avoid problems with disposal if the tank has to be emptied or starts to leak. Clean tank water also eliminates the need for wiping down motors, saving time and money.

Regulatory Issues

  • A hazardous waste determination must be conducted to establish whether or not disposal of waste fluids is subject to hazardous waste regulations [40 CFR 262.11] click here. A hazardous waste determination must also be conducted on any materials used to clean a spill. For more information on New York's Hazardous Waste Regulations and storage requirements, click here, pdf.

  • If there is a stormwater discharge from your facility and you perform any outdoor vessel maintenance or repair outdoors, you may have to register for a General Permit for the Discharge of Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activity ("Storm Water General Permit"). For more information on storm water permitting in New York, click here.

  • If doing an oil changes, see "Oil Changes," click here.

  • See "Antifreeze" click here, to determine how to handle, store and dispose of antifreeze used to winterize engines.

  • Manage soiled rags as described in "Rags"click here.