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U.S. Coast Guard begins ticketing spillers

Jan 1, 2003

COAST GUARD BEGINS TICKETING spillers. The owner of the Belle Isle Marina in South Carolina is glad that the Coast Guard has initiated a trial program under which it will issue "tickets" to those involved in minor oil spills.

Tickets, that is, instead of reams of paperwork, report forms, and lengthy penalty processes. It's all part of a planned reduced government presence where minor infractions are involved.

Workers at the marina spilled a small amount of diesel fuel in April when they were changing a pump nozzle. The spill was later spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter and traced to the marina. The result: a ticket from the Coast Guard requiring the marina operator to pay a fine of about $250 if he chose not to contest the charge. Marina owner Walter Green said he would pay the fine without protest, even though the accidental spill involved only about a half-gallon of diesel.

"The old way of handling small spills was an administrative nightmare," said a Coast Guard official in Charleston. "Now, instead of taking a case from Charleston to Miami and then back to Washington and then back to Charleston, we'll just deal with it right here."


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