Charlie Phippen, Bar Harbor harbormaster and president of the Maine Harbormasters Association. Phippen wrote to the Marine Resources Committee in support of a bill that would create guidelines for the disposal of marine flares. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Bill regulates flare disposal

AUGUSTA — A bill in the hands of the Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee would dictate where commercial and recreational boaters should dispose of their expired marine flares.

Currently, there is no program for flare disposal, and the explosive devices can pile up in boats, garages or even in the ocean.

Commercial and recreational boaters are required to carry visual distress signaling equipment, including flares, aboard their vessels. The flares generally expire after three years.

LD 252, sponsored by Rep. Jay McCreight (D-Harpswell) and co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor), Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle) and other representatives from both parties, would allow boaters to dispose of their expired flares at various fire stations around the state. The disposal program would be ongoing throughout the year.

The bill also states that marine flares would be collected during boating events throughout the year.

Once collected, flares are to be incinerated by the fire departments. Recyclable material from the devices must be recycled in cooperation with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations.

Charlie Phippen, Bar Harbor harbormaster and president of the Maine Harbormasters Association, penned a letter to the committee in support of the bill on behalf of the group.

“The federal and state mandates that require the carriage of [marine flares] is a costly and recurring expense that boaters, both recreational and commercial must bear as often as every three years,” Phippen wrote. “The fact that flares have this short shelf life results in untold thousands of expired marine flares that end up accumulating on board these vessels.

He indicated that there is no approved state or federal method of disposal.

“The Maine Harbormasters Association believes that the adoption of LD 252 will address this dilemma which the Maine boating public faces when disposal of marine flares becomes necessary … . This legislation will facilitate a safe statewide method of disposing of expired marine flares.”

LD 252 also features an educational component that includes a multi-agency campaign initiated by the Department of Public Safety to inform the public of the new marine flare disposal program and the dangers of unsafe disposal.

The bill states that the websites of the DEP, Department of Marine Resources, Department of Agriculture, Conservation of Forestry and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will provide information and resources about the disposal program.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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