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9 Quick and easy tricks to manage fuel spills.

June 2, 2008
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Penalties for fuel spills can include stiff fines and possibly even time in the brig. So controlling fuel spills isn — t just another aspect of keeping the environment clean, it — s a matter of keeping yourself out of trouble.

When fueling, try to frequent marinas that have fuel thanks with automatic shutoffs. But keep in mind that even then, topping off is the leading cause of vent and deck fill spills. (Plus, a full-to-the-brim tank doesn — t have room for cold fuel to expand as it warms up.) So take it easy, and stop at the first indication that your boat — s tank is full. Here are a few available products to help you prevent and clean up fuel spills.

EnviroMarine (888/242-5799, www.enviromarine.com) offers the SpillStop package ($25), which contains a black plastic splash guard, a fuel-absorbing doughnut that fits over the hose nozzle, and a fuel-absorbing pillow that affixes to the hull under the vent with two suction cups. Additional doughnuts ($3.95) are available online.

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Blue Ribbon Environmental Products (800/436-1050, www.bre-products.com) has the Sport/Powerboat Marine Kit ($110) for boats up to 26 — that includes 10 fueling bibs that fit over the fuel nozzle. They — re also available separately online as a 3-pack ($8).

Perko (305/621-7525, www.perko.com) has a fill with an integrated vent (#0583, $40). This plastic unit has a chrome-plated brass cap, and the vent is actually molded into the fill, eliminating the need for a separate through-hull fitting since the fuel tank vent hose is run directly to the barb in the deck fill. When moderate splash back occurs, the errant fuel just returns down the fill. The cover has a series of air holes to prevent vacuums.

Vetus (410/712-0740, www.vetus.com) has a unit it calls Splash-Stop ($133), a plastic gizmo that attaches under the deck close to the existing fuel fill. It has an internal rubber guard that grips the fuel nozzle to prevent fuel from splashing up and out of the fill. The vent line is cut and led from the hull fitting to a reservoir that will hold about a pint of fuel that may have backed up. It — s then connected from the bottom of the reservoir to the tank and acts as a return for the accumulated fuel.

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Seacurefill (978/342-9600, www.seacurefill.com) takes a unique approach to stopping overflows. Its unit (1.5″ fill, $40) installs on the deck next to the existing fuel fill. The existing vent line from the tank runs to a barb and then from another barb to the installed vent. While fueling, a supplied clear jumper hose with a quick-connect fitting attaches to the Seacurefill, joining the nozzle in the fill neck. When fuel is visible in the jumper hose, it — s time to stop. Any fuel in the hose drains back into the tank.

Green Marine Products (516/628-1255, www.greenmarineproducts.com) offers the Fuel Whistle ($30). This warning device makes a whistling sound during fueling. When the whistling stops, you know the tank is full.

Racor (800/344-3286, www.parker.com/racor) offers check valves: the Lifeguard LG50 ($90) for gas, and the LG100 ($95) for diesel. Installed at the vent, they prevent overflow.

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Davis Instruments (800/678-3669, www.davisinstruments.com) takes a simple approach to vent spills with its No-Spill fuel recovery system ($24). This is nothing more than a plastic bottle with a hole in its side, which attaches to the hull with two suction cups. The hole fits over the vent fitting with a sealing grommet and collects any fuel that squirts into the bottle.

Universal Remediation (877/788-2444, www.unireminc.com) uses NASA-developed technology for its PRP product, a powder that absorbs and biodegrades oil, gas, and diesel spills. Its PRP is basically powdered beeswax packaged for marine use ($10). It will absorb fuel up to three times its weight and then completely biodegrade. The company also offers the Bio-Sok ($16 to $20), which absorbs any fuel that finds its way into the bilge.

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