By Chris Tittel
The Monroe County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division has recognized Sea Center as its eco-friendly Business of the Month for November. The full-service marina, owned by the Gladwell family and located on Big Pine Key, has been in business for 7 years. It includes a repair shop, boat storage facility and retail concession. Mechanics and staff also sell new outboard motors and take motor trade-ins.
“A lot of our business involves repairing motors,” General Manager C.J. Geotis said. “As a result, we see a lot of potential pollutants – motor oil, hydraulic fluid, gasoline, batteries – and know that we must do our part to make sure those pollutants don’t make it into the environment.”
Environmental Health Division inspectors can offer eco-friendly tips to businesses that generate small amounts of potentially hazardous waste. The tips can ultimately help businesses pass more formal inspections through the state Department of Environmental Protection, which has been tasked with enforcing the Water Quality Assurance Act of 1983. For an informal inspection and consultation, call the Environmental Health Division at 289-2721.
Sea Center’s Eco-friendly Measures
• Sea Center purchases oil in 55-gallon drums. Customers dip reusable containers into the barrels to get only the oil they need. Purchasing oil in bulk not only conserves the resource, but also reduces demand for non-biodegradable plastic bottles that can litter land and sea. Plastic bottles can also pose a fire hazard, especially if there’s oil residue on them when tossed into trash receptacles. Marina staff will also recycle oil for customers.
• Sea Center takes great care in storing hazardous waste as part of its recycling program. Waste is typically stored in smaller containers that are dropped into larger containers, the idea being that the larger containers will protect the ground from any leaks in the smaller containers. In addition, batteries are stored on racks to help prevent waste from potentially seeping into the ground and nearshore waters.
• With the environment in mind, Sea Center recently stopped the practice of bottom painting vessels on its property.
• Packaging is recycled, with crates containing new motors arriving at the marina emptied and used to pack used motors for shipping out of the marina. Cardboard boxes are used as ground mats for mechanics making repairs.
• Employees are trained regularly on handling and disposing of hazardous waste.
• Trash receptacles are easily accessible, encouraging customers to collect and dispose of trash from waters around the marina and while out boating.