NYMPP: Section 2 - Painting & Fiberglass Repair
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New York Sea Grant's
Marina Pollution Prevention Web Site

Section 2:
Painting & Fiberglass Repair
- Abrasive Blasting

Potential Environmental Impacts:

In abrasive blasting, sand, glass or plastic bead, walnut shells, metal shot or grit, sodium bicarbonate or dry ice pellets are used with air pressure or water pressure to remove paint. Traditional abrasive blasting of large boat hulls with sand and water can be a messy job resulting in many hundreds of pounds of spent abrasive mixed with bottom paint. In some cases, this material may have to be disposed of as a hazardous waste.

Best Management Practices:

  • Consider alternatives to abrasive blasting on-site, such as dustless sanders or contracting the work off-site.
  • If abrasive blasting must be done, perform it within well-ventilated spray booths or plastic tarp enclosures away from the water to minimize the spreading of dust and windblown material, and to prevent residue from being carried into surface waters.
  • If tarp enclosures are used, avoid blasting on windy days. Because tarps are not rigid, they do not eliminate wind flow through the blasting area, and so they allow the wind to carry blasting material and residue into surface waters.

  • Prohibit uncontained blasting in the marina.

  • Store spent sandblasting grit, scrapings and debris under cover in a manner that minimizes contact with process water or storm water.

  • Where possible try to use media that can be recovered and reused or media that can be separated more easily from the paint chips to minimize the amount of hazardous waste produced by blasting. (For examples of companies that specialize in different types of media and associated equipment, click here.)

Regulatory Issues:

  • Abrasive blasting waste can be either hazardous or non-hazardous, depending upon the levels of contaminants it contains (the most common contaminants are metals and other materials associated with the paints). In order to determine which is the case, the generator must either have their waste tested or utilize reliable "knowledge of process" information for the waste (if available) [40 CFR 262.11, click here].

  • Such information could include testing by haulers, or studies by industry trade groups. For more information on New York hazardous waste testing requirements, click here.

  • If they are hazardous, they must be managed in accordance with hazardous waste storage requirements [40 CFR 262.11], click here.

  • For more information on New York's Hazardous Waste Regulations and storage requirements, click here.

  • If there is a stormwater discharge from your facility and you blast or store the used blast media 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 stormwater permitting in New York, click here.

  • Perform abrasive blasting so that visible emissions do not cross outside of the property boundary or cause a nuisance.