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Barnstable County: Stop the FLARE up in Water Contamination

Project Details

Year: 2008
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Project Manager: Marilyn Lopes, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Barnstable, MA
Partners: Massachusetts State Police, Mashpee Department of Public Works, AmeriCorps Cape Cod, Cape Cod Commission, Eastham Fire Department, United States Power Squadron

Traditional chemical flares used for road and marine emergencies contain perchlorate, an emerging concern as a drinking water contaminant. The goal of this project was to prevent contamination from flares to ground and surface water in and around the Cape Cod area, and to encourage the use of safer products for emergency responders and the public. New LED flares are now a viable non-chemical alternative and were distributed to municipal agencies free of charge and to boaters at a discounted rate. The Cooperative reached municipal public safety departments, boaters, and boating safety groups through trainings and tradeshows to encourage replacement of typical chemical flares with LED technology.

On September 21, 2011, a presentation was made at the Barnstable County Commissioners Meeting on the progress of The Marine and Road Flares Disposal Program- a county program which exemplifies Barnstable County's commitment to water quality.  During the meeting, LED Flares were distributed to Cape Cod First Responders. Many representatives had expressed how they hope to move away from chemical flares altogether, as the LED flares were in fact more effective and efficient.  Sixteen towns in Barnstable County currently participate in the collection and correct disposal of the chemical Marine and Road Flares.  

Based on information and testimonials collected during the project, a video was created to serve as an educational tool for emergency responders and boaters about the viability of alternatives flares. Watch the video below, or contact the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension to obtain a copy. You can also learn how and where to dispose of chemical flares at their web site. Other informational materials created under the grant can be downloaded from the sidebar on this page.

Check out photos of the Cape Cod project from the TURI 2008 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction ceremony  here .

Other specifics of the grant project included:

  •  Training personnel in the use of LED flares including:
    •  Fire Departments: Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich and West Barnstable
    •  Police Departments: Barnstable, Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, Mashpee, Truro, and Yarmouth.
  •  Teaching four Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety classes about the health effects and drinking water contamination caused by perchlorate, and introducing LED flares to the participants. Worked with the Air Station Cape Cod and the Coast Guard Auxiliary to promote the use of LED flares by boaters and seek avenues for Coast Guard approval of LED flares for boaters.
  •  Producing educational materials including an eight-minute training video, three sets of posters, and a handout. Videos will be distributed to police and fire departments, local access television stations, and others. Posters and handouts will be distributed to marine stores, Harbormasters, police and fire stations and others.

This page updated Thursday July 19 2018