wood. These standards specify a number of details including proper wood species, acceptable
preservatives and minimum preservative retentions and penetrations. If these standards are
followed, the industry, in effect, guarantees the performance of treated wood products.
Currently, only two preservative types, creosotes and the arsenical salts are recommended for
pressure treatment of wood for use in the marine environment. In addition to following AWPA
standards, Navy criteria documents require independent inspections of treated wood to verify
compliance with these standards.
When wood is treated to AWPA standards, the material will provide excellent service.
Actual industry compliance with their own standards, however, continues to be a problem. In
1987, the results of a joint Navy (NAVFAC)-AWPB survey of treated wood products indicated
that about 50 percent of the pier components and 80 percent of the piling in marine environments
did not conform to AWPA standards. In recent interviews, NAVFAC Applied Biologists have
stated that treatment noncompliance continues to be a serious and costly issue throughout DOD.
In addition to pressure treatment guidelines, Navy criteria specifications and MO-312
address in-place remedial treatment methods for wood in the marine environment. For field
treatment with a wood preservative, AWPA Standard M4 is followed. It should be noted,
however, that application restrictions apply and the treatments are not nearly as effective as
pressure treatments. Field cuts of treated wood must be avoided whenever possible!
NAVFAC MO-312 and NAVFAC MO-104, "Maintenance of Waterfront Facilities,"
provide recommendations for alternatives to the replacement of borer-damaged load-bearing
piling. The most cost-effective alternative calls for the installation of plastic barriers which
eliminates further marine borer damage. Interim guide specifications for installing plastic barriers
are provided in NCEL Technical Note N-181, "Plastic Coatings and Wraps for New Marine
Timber Piling." Although potentially very cost effective, the use of plastic barriers by the Navy is
CURRENT PRACTICES AND ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS
What has apparently caused a great deal of confusion and frustration on the part of those
who would use treated wood in the marine environment are the environmental regulations. And
indeed there appears to be a growing number of regulatory citations that agencies could and have
used to derail projects involving treated wood. A summary of federal environmental regulations
that could impact treated wood usage is considered herein. Of greater apparent concern,
however, are the state, county, municipal and other local rules and regulations. A detailed review
of these rules is beyond the scope of this work but some generations and examples are given.
Federal Environmental Regulations
Federal EPA action that could have severely impacted Navy practices with regard to the
use of treated wood in the marine environment involved the registration of wood preservatives as
pesticides. The EPA, however, published its conclusions in the Federal Register of January 10,
1986 that the economic impact did not justify the ban of these chemicals as wood preservatives.
The creosote and arsenical salts are duly registered restricted-use pesticides and treated products