Prevent Pollution from Sandblasting and Painting Operations

Overspraying paints, blasting without adequate containment, and uncovered grit piles may contribute to water pollution from toxic metals and chemicals from anti-fouling paints. This pollution can impact human health and lead to irreversible and harmful effects for fish and other aquatic life.

The City's Role

The federal Clean Water Act requires cities to set rules and regulations to protect the city's sewer and stormwater systems and its watersheds. Environmental Services works with business and industry to meet these requirements.

Sandblasting and painting activities have the potential to pollute water with toxic metals and chemicals from anti-fouling paints. Dumping paints, solvents, adhesives, oils, detergents, grit material, and other materials violate federal and state laws and city code. If materials are classified as hazardous wastes, dumping also violates hazardous waste regulations.

Rules and Regulations

Portland City Code 17.39 prohibits the discharge of these types of substances into the stormwater system The discharge of paints, solvents, or paint blasting waste materials may result in investigations, issuance of penalties, and required corrective actions.  

Portland City Code 17.34 prohibits water containing solvents from being discharged to the sanitary sewer. Water with solvents should be hauled offsite for treatment and disposal.

Water generated from blasting operations may be suitable for discharge to the sanitary sewer. Treatment may be required to remove solids such as paint chips and grit before being discharged to the sanitary sewer. Apply for discharge authorization.

Generators of grit waste are required to conduct a waste determination to ensure their waste is stored and disposed of in accordance with state and federal regulations. Grit waste and anti-fouling ingredients such as tributyltin (TBT) or cuprous oxide may be hazardous waste that requires special storage, handling, and disposal. Refer to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Hazardous Waste Program for information on conducting a hazardous waste determination.

Prevent Pollution through Best Management Practices

  • Prevent paint chips, abrasive blast material, and grit waste from contacting stormwater runoff and discharging to surface waters.
  • Designate areas for blasting and painting that provide adequate protection to prevent overspray and fugitive air emissions.
  • Operate all designated areas for blasting and painting operations with containment doors closed and ensure ventilation filtration equipment is properly functioning.
  • When conducting temporary outdoor blasting or painting, use portable containment such as tarps, shrouds, or other structures to minimize airborne emissions. Do not operate in windy conditions.
  • Conduct a thorough cleaning of spent paint, paint chips, coatings, grit waste, and other materials to prevent discharge of these wastes. Never wash debris into the storm drain.
  • Segregate non-hazardous waste from hazardous waste to reduce treatment, disposal, and management costs. Dispose of waste in accordance with regulatory requirements. Contact a waste contractor for assistance if needed.
  • Recycle solvents and any other materials where opportunities exist.
  • Develop and implement a spill prevention and response plan.
  • Ensure employees are trained on the proper best management practices to minimize the potential for pollutants entering the storm sewer system.

Failure to implement applicable best management practices may result in the discharge of pollutants which is a violation of Portland City Code. The City will issue enforcement action in the form of a civil penalty if pollutants are discharged from your facility. Appropriate measures to prevent the discharge of pollutants are required.