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Source: Newsday

Islip orders use of biodegradable oil

BY SARAH CRICHTON

Posted: July 26, 2011
Originally Published: July 25, 2011

Beginning next year, Islip Town will require that bar and chain oil for all chain saws and other hand tools used for town work be biodegradable.

The policy, passed unanimously by the town board last week, follows a law instituted last year that mandates only organic fertilizer be used on all town properties. Both will improve the health of town creeks and streams and the Great South Bay, as well as protect workers who deal with the products, said councilman John Edwards, who sponsored both measures.

Edwards said he got the idea for the oil change after seeing oil drip into Great South Bay while workers were doing maintenance on bulkheads.

"You could see it sitting as a sheen across the water surface," he said.

Refined petroleum products disturb the hormonal balance of many marine animals, and the surface layer they create blocks sunlight to marine life and phytoplankton, adversely affecting the food chain, said Mitch Hansen of Citizens Campaign For the Environment at last week's town board meeting. The products are also recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as carcinogenic, he told the board.

The bar and chain oil provision takes effect Jan. 1.

The town plans a six-month trial of biodegradable motor oil in up to four town vehicles.

Warren Goercke, deputy commissioner for public works, said the oil the town would test in a combination of pickups and cars is certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers and approved for gasoline engines.

"It's a 5W-30 weight oil, fully American-grown, with base oils derived from animal fats and plant oils, totally biodegradable and safe -- not refined or recycled and not a petroleum-based product," he said.

The town would monitor the vehicles' performance for a period of about six months, conduct oil changes in each vehicle at 3,000 miles and see whether it is worthwhile to convert the entire fleet, Goercke said.

A resolution seeking approval of a donation of oil for the pilot trial from a local supplier likely would go before the town board next month, Edwards said. If the town decides to adopt the approach, a competitive bid process would be used to decide on a supplier.