Jan 29, 2015

Free Oil Recycling Helps Keep Our Bay Clean

The Morro Bay Harbor Department just cut the ribbon on its new oil recycling facility! This is great news for boaters, and for everyone who wants to keep this busy, working harbor clean.

Ribbon cutting on oil recycling facility
Jeremiah O’Brien of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Association cuts the ribbon

Without proper disposal, oil and other hazardous chemicals can end up in our waters causing harm to people, animals, and plants alike. This amazing recycling program, part of the Harbor Department’s Clean Marina program, helps boaters take care of this waste in an environmentally responsible way—at no charge.

If you have used oil, oil filters, or antifreeze, just stop by the Harbor Department office or give them a call to set up a drop-off time. They’ll meet you at the recycling facility (just across from the Great American Fish Company) and help you dispose of the waste. Used oil gets poured into a 380 gallon holding tank, which is hauled off by a recycling company when it’s full.

Oil is stored in the holding tank
Morro Bay Mayor, Jamie Irons, pours oil into the holding tank


The Harbor Department even offers an oil-absorbent exchange program. Bring them oil-soaked absorbent pads from your bilge or your latest maintenance project, and they’ll hand you a pile of clean ones. Bring those back, and they’ll do it again. The used pads get carted away and spun clean in a giant centrifuge. Then they’re shredded and turned into absorbent sausage boom. (For the uninitiated, that’s an oil absorbent that looks very much like a string of Italian sausages and that can be cut or linked together to fit any job.)

Though the recycling program has been around since 1999, a construction project forced the Harbor Department to tear down the sheds where they housed their supplies and equipment two years ago. Since then, they’ve provided these services—come rain or shine—in the open air. Now, thanks to hard work, great planning, and support from many community organizations including Integrated Waste Management Authority, CalRecycle, and the National Estuary Program , they’ve been able to put a roof over the operation again.

The new facility has a large truck-ready door and a tidy assortment of barrels, bins, safety equipment, and other supplies.

Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly and supplies
Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly displays an oil-absorbent pad

As a supporter of the Harbor Department’s clean marine efforts, the Estuary Program is incredibly happy to see the recycling program move into this new building. It’s important work. Each year, the Harbor Department collects approximately 900 used filters and enough absorbent pads to suck up about 250 gallons of oil. Since starting the program in 1999, they’ve recycled nearly 22,000 gallons of used oil. Thanks to this free recycling service, none of that waste ends up in the bay.

To learn more about the Harbor Department or the recycling program, you can check out their website, drop by their offices at 1275 Embarcadero, or give them a call at 805.772.6254.