Some Oil Spill Products Found Ineffective

Annapolis, Md. (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — For years there have been a range of products on the market to help boat owners contain engine oil or fuel spills in the engine compartment or on open water. These products range from simple absorbent pads to sprays, powders and bioremediation products.

But recent tests conducted by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water found that some oil spill products that claimed to remove or render harmless spills of oil, gas or diesel don’t deliver on their promises.

The foundation said that it had selected 21 products for testing. One set was sent to the Duke University Marine Laboratory for testing for effectiveness and toxicity another the foundation kept for a hands-on test of ease-of-use.

The results of the lab tests at Duke University and the field tests by the foundation were very similar — 10 products were low in toxicity and 11  ranged from toxic to super toxic. Only eight were deemed truly effective with no visible oil remaining. Some were illegal to use on open water spills by non-professionals.

“While we did find three products that worked well, many products were ineffective, highly toxic and were not legal for the average boater to use,” said Susan Shingledecker, vice president of the Boat US Foundation.

The three products that BoatUS reported worked well were: Enviro-Bond 403 Bilge Sock (Bilge and Open Water)C.I. Agent Marine Pillow (Bilge)West Marine Bilge Oilsorber (Bilge and Open Water)

Boaters, Shingledecker said, should be skeptical of false oil spill product claims, including wording such as “EPA-Classified for use in US waterways” (The EPA does not classify products (for) recreational use); “Easily dispersed and collected;” “Meets clean-marina criteria” (Clean marina programs do not set oil spill product criteria); or “Simply sprinkle on and watch it disappear: (You may be watching for a very long time).

BoatUS reminded boaters that technically speaking the US Coast Guard requires boaters to report any spill that creates a sheen on the water to the National Spill Response Center.

The full report, which contains a list of the 21 products tested, further information on the three top-performing oil absorbers and tips on oil spills and oil spill products, can be found at

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