Harbor Master Proposes New Regulations for Fueling Boats

Possible changes to Falmouth’s boat fueling regulations are on the horizon, and the public will get its chance to weigh in at a public hearing next week.

The Falmouth Town Marina Building at 180 Scranton Avenue will host the hearing, which is scheduled for 7:30 PM on Wednesday, September 4. Oral testimony will be accepted, and the Falmouth Harbor Master’s Office is in the meantime accepting written comments on the proposed new regulations.

Gregg P. Fraser, town harbor master, said these latest regulations are the second set of amendments to regulations originally put in place in 2007, and were prompted by “an abnormally large number of violations of the refueling regulations” over the summer, including boats refueling outside the time periods defined in the current regulations and a few “unreported minor fuel spills.”

Mr. Fraser said the problem became very apparent following one spill at the head of Falmouth Harbor in which the town was eventually able to identify the refueling company “but we never identified the owner of the boat” because the refueling company did not keep detailed records.

To address that issue, under the proposed amendments, fueling companies would be required to provide much greater detail on refueling jobs, including the name of the customer’s vessel, how much fuel they expect to deliver, and the time and place the fueling will occur.

Fueling companies would also have to keep a detailed log, which may be inspected upon request by any authorized enforcement agent; and must provide a written report on any spills in which fuel spills directly into the water.

“This would help us track down the offending person if there is a spill,” Mr. Fraser said. “We should be able to find out who’s responsible,” not only for the benefit of the refueling company, which could be held liable for a spill depending on the circumstances, but for the town, which could also be held liable if a spill occurred on town property.

“This is all an effort, really, to protect the town,” he said.

The town would reserve the right to respond to any violations with the immediate revocation of fueling privileges on town property under the control of the Falmouth Waterways Committee and/or the Falmouth Marine and Environmental Services Department.

Among the other proposed amendments: only certain designated slips at the main marina on Scranton Avenue would be open for refueling purposes; fuel trucks would be barred from arriving and idling at the dock area at the corner of Scranton Avenue and Clinton Avenue for more than 15 minutes prior or after a fueling; and trucks would only be allowed at “Tide’s Bulkhead,” the eastern entrance to Falmouth Inner Harbor, between 7:45 and 10:15 AM.

Written comments may be mailed to the Falmouth Harbor Master’s Office at 180 Scranton Avenue, Falmouth, MA 02540. Copies of the proposed amendments are available through the harbor master’s office.

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