Virginia Certified Clean Marinas Begin Using Fuel Fill Kits to Prevent Contaminating Waterways

Beginning this spring, 100 certified clean marinas in Virginia will begin using a device at all fueling docks to prevent fuel spillage into the state’s waterways. Each marina will receive three Clean Way Fuel Fill Kits thanks to grant funding from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.

Preventing Fuel Spills

The innovative and reusable kits allow boaters and marina dockhands to efficiently refuel boats without overflow or spillage. The Clean Way Fuel Fill Kit features a baffle design that captures the burp or backsplash that occurs when filling a boat fuel tank. The splash is contained within the device, and the fuel is immediately returned into the receiver, eliminating the need for absorbent cloths or dispersal sprays onto the water. Each kit comes with five different adapters so users can select which one fits their boat and fuel nozzle.

“In the past, we’ve distributed post-incident materials like bilge pads and oil spill kits for marina owners to have on-hand in case of overflow. The Clean Way takes things a step further by eliminating spills at the source,” said Celia Cackowski, marine education specialist at Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which operates the Virginia Clean Marina Program (VCMP).

The grant funding to purchase the kits was generated by the sale of Friend of the Chesapeake Bay license plates. Each time a plate is sold or renewed, a portion is donated to support programs that benefit the Bay. Revenues from the purchase of the popular Chesapeake Bay license plate have continued to grow, resulting in awarding over $6.8 million in grants for Chesapeake Bay projects, including the VCMP. Cackowski said a VCMP stakeholder discovered the Clean Way Fuel Fill at a conference and was impressed with the product. “We purchased 300 kits, which is enough to distribute three to each Virginia Clean Marina, she said. “Each facility will have one kit for each fuel port size.”

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In addition to the kits, marinas will receive laminated instructions that can be displayed at fuel pump stations, and marina owners and operators will be trained in how to use the devices.

A Passion for the Environment

Garry Fox created the Clean Way Fuel Fill Kit nearly 10 years ago after purchasing his first 30-foot diesel. “My wife and I have owned a lot of boats over the years, but this was our first diesel. I had just picked up the boat 40 miles from our home in Fort Pierce, Florida, and was fueling it to bring it home,” Fox said. “It holds 40 gallons of diesel and when we topped off the tank I got diesel on me, in the boat, and in the water.”

Fox returned home and spent the next month looking for an existing product to eliminate the issue. The only products he found were absorbent round donuts that capture some of the fuel or sprays to make it sink in the water. That is when he decided to use his experience as an illustrator and tile maker to design his own solution. Fox spent a year and a half designing the Clean Way Fuel Fill, which is available in 10 and 12-inch sizes. “When I was designing it, my biggest concern was air flow and fuel flow. The funnel design allows the air to leak out as well as allow the fuel to burp up and go back into the tank,” said Fox. “The Clean Way is designed to capture a high speed, 30 gallon per minute fuel burp and not allow any to spill.”

More recently, Fox created and now sells a side fill version of the kit for vertical fuel receivers. Just like the original version, the kit comes with three rubber press in fittings that will firmly fit all international receivers as well as fuel nozzle receivers for both gasoline and diesel fuel. “One pint of fuel contaminates 60,000 gallons of fresh water. One gallon of spilled fuel contaminates one million gallons of fresh water. If used correctly, these kits will help prevent future contamination of our precious waterways,” he said.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, NOAA Fisheries, and Coast Guard stations in Annapolis, Maryland, and the Florida Keys have been using the Clean Way Fuel Fill for quite some time. Cackowski said the kits will assist the state of Virginia’s goal to preserve its waterways for recreational boating, as well as seaside tourism, recreational and commercial fishing, and real estate development. “By reducing fuel spills at their source, we can help protect our water quality, which in turn benefits everyone.”