In response to numerous inquiries from boaters on how to properly dispose of used or outdated marine flares, Ocean County worked to develop a safe and convenient solution.
“It took some time but with a number of our departments working together, led by the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, we were able to get the proper permits from the state and create a program where we not only collect the flares but also properly and safely incinerate them,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Barbara Jo Crea. “With the two collections in 2023, more than 2,000 flares were dropped off to us and disposed of the right way, reducing any possible damage to the environment.”
The success of the new program also caught the eye of New Jersey environmental officials resulting in the county being awarded the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Excellence Award in the Sustainable Community Category. Crea, who is liaison to the Department of Solid Waste accepted the award on behalf of Ocean County during a recent ceremony in Trenton.
“This award speaks volumes about the cooperation we have among our county departments, many of which came together to create a program that has real and long-lasting benefits,” she said. “I am very proud of all the county staff that worked on this. This award belongs to all of them.”
With support from the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Ocean County Training Center in Waretown worked together to establish spring and fall collection events for expired boat flares with the drop off taking place at the Training Center.
The program debuted with great success; approximately 2,000 marine flares were collected during last year’s two events. The flares were later incinerated in an onsite burn box under the supervision of the County Fire Marshals.
“With about 25,000 boats registered in Ocean County, this program is essential for a number of reasons,” Crea said. “It provides proper disposal of these flares and its educational component is raising awareness of the need to have flares on boats, how long the flares are good for, and now an answer to how to properly dispose of them.”
Deputy Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn noted many steps were taken to get the program up and running.
Quinn, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Training Center and the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, said a lot of work went into securing the Research, Development, and Demonstration Permit from the DEP.
“There was a great deal of research on our part that went into this,” Quinn added. “All that work resulted in a successful program.”
The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards has been New Jersey’s premier environmental awards program since 2000. Ocean County accepted the award for the new boat flare disposal program at a ceremony held in Trenton on Dec. 18.
“We are honored to be recognized for our efforts in promoting sustainability within our community,” Crea said. “Providing this free program to our boaters gives them the opportunity to safely dispose of old flares and keep them out of the water or landfill.”
Other agencies consulted during the initial planning process of the disposal program included the U.S. Coast Guard, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Jersey State Police, Marine Services Bureau, fire academies in Ocean County including Toms River and Brick Township, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, Sea Grant New Jersey, and other coastal communities throughout the United States including Annapolis, Maryland and California.
“This program is the first of its kind in New Jersey,” Crea said. “It is another great opportunity to continue to protect our environment.”