April 2020 Newsletter

The Marine Chemist Association held an Executive Board meeting via a conference call on March 28th. A summary of the meeting and a general discussion follows.

As we all know we are in unprecedented times. What we once considered normal is now abnormal and no one knows what our life will look like once the virus is contained and we move forward. The sectional seminar in Charlotte scheduled for the weekend of March 28 th with its associated Excom meeting has been postponed. I believe this is the first time in the history of the MCA that this has happened.

The board spent a significant amount of time during its conference call meeting examining the options moving forward with future seminars. The primary focus is and continues to be member safety. To hold meetings almost all members would be required to use airports, airlines and public transportation. The current information indicates that these methods of transportation are high potential exposure routes. Additionally, flight schedules are reduced and changed. If we knew when we would begin to return to life as we knew it the decision on the seminars would be clearer and easier to make. Sadly, we don’t.

Currently, all options are on the table and a cost analysis on the price of canceling or postponing meetings is being investigated. As decisions are made we will inform the membership.

The current makeup of your executive board is as follows.

Please note that all sections will elect an alternate at seminars this year. Due to postponement of the Atlantic seminar an email was sent out seeking volunteers. I have had responses and if enough chemists are interested a vote will be held. If you are interested in serving from any section please contact your sectional representatives.

NFPA Report

Larry Russell gave an abbreviated report on the NFPA Marine Field Service and the Marine Chemist Qualification Board during the recent conference call. The PowerPoint presentation is on the MCA website. Larry asked a question about the usefulness of the identification cards provided by NFPA upon certification/recertification. This question was included in the survey sent out to all Marine Chemists. A determination on whether to continue the use of these will be determined based on the survey outcome.

Occurrence Report Summary

Larry provided a review of three recent incidents involving hot work authorized by Marine Chemists. Each incident involved pipelines that previously contained a flammable liquid. The Marine Chemist Qualification Board has asked the MCA to make the subject of tank cleaning and pipelines a topic of high priority for future training seminars and this is scheduled.


Due to the postponement of the Atlantic Sectional Seminar, Larry will discuss the potential of allowing chemists who were required to attend the seminar to meet recertification requirements but were unable to do so, to extend their certification. This is permitted within the current MCQB rules. Also, due too many doctors not currently seeing patients, Larry will also discuss extending the medical requirement for recertification.

A discussion on the dissemination of information between the MCA and the MCQB regarding the status of chemist’s certification was debated. A letter was sent to the Chairman of the MCQB requesting that if the status of a chemist changes that a notification be sent to the MCA. This matter will be taken up at the next meeting of the MCQB.

NFPA 306

NFPA 306 is currently open for comment. Larry Russell is considering setting up a task force made up of 306 members to recommend revisions to the standard. Now is the time for everyone to look at the standard and submit improvement suggestions.

A new section on above ground storage tank inspections in waterfront facilities has been submitted for consideration in 306.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


All MACOSH (OSHA’s Marine Advisory Committee on Occupational Health and Safety) work has been suspended. A rider in the Defense Authorization Act making MACOSH a permeant committee is making OSHA revise the OSH act. Amy Liu is representing the MCA and is chair of the shipyard workgroup. Larry Russell is also on the committee. Don Raffo is overall chair.

Certificate Reporting

Larry Russell reported that a few chemists are not up to date with their monthly reporting. While it appears that the number of certificates issued in 2019 is up by about 900 over the prior year, until all chemists report the number is not confirmed. Monthly reporting is done through the following website.


EMCC and Certificates

Any questions on the EMCC program, computer and printer problems should be addressed to Rick Sterling.



The Ethics Committee chaired by Chairman elect Phil Giles has concluded the investigation of an ethics complaint. A final report is ready although reporting of the recommendation(s) requires an executive session. The Excom could not enter executive session in the recent conference call, so at the next available meeting the matter will be discussed.


The MCA website (www.marinechemistassociation.com) has been updated. There is a members-only section which requires a log-in. Hopefully, everyone has been able to log-in and view it. All seminar presentations are on the website. In the members-only section you can view seminar attendance for the past several years. This is one of the most popular areas for chemists. If you have an issue with your log-in you should contact the administrator at support@marinechemistassociation.com.

Additionally, the MCA recently purchased www.marinechemistassociation.org. If you visit this site you will be redirected to the current MCA website.

There is a new Forum section which only chemists can view. It is an area where news and discussions are posted. If you are registered, you will get a text message whenever there is a new post. This has turned out to be a popular feature on the website. If you have not registered you will not get notifications and must manually enter the site to obtain the latest forum news and posts. We encourage all chemists to join the forum and obtain notifications.

You will also notice that there is now a link on the website which will allow you to pay for annual dues and seminars online at www.marinechemistpaysite.com You are encouraged to use this new method for payment and registration. Currently about 50% of chemists have paid using the site. At the last meeting the Excom decided to make paying by credit card more attractive by making it $2.00 less than mail-in registration.


The 2020 MCA scholarship application form has been placed on the website. If you have a child or grandchild who meets the criteria please consider having them apply. Applications must be received by May 1st 2020.

Scholarship Committee Members


As previously discussed, 2021 seminars are currently under review. The membership will be notified as plans are firmed up.

The Schedule for Seminars


The MCA has developed a trifold pamphlet which can be given out at different events. The trifold was to be presented at each seminar this year. However, due to the virus pandemic we have not been able to provide copies, but have included a copy below. If you think you have a need for copies please let me know.

Nomination Committee

Past Chair Brian Axelrad is currently seeking volunteers for the Chairman-Elect position. Voting will take place in January 2021. If you are interested in this position please contact Brian. Traditionally, an individual from the Gulf/Inland section would fill this position, however it is open to all.

Code of Conduct for Meetings

During any official MCA meeting there should be no discussion of personal matters, private disputes, or business pricing. Discussion should be limited to technical matters and the business of running the MCA.

On Line Training

The MCA has gotten several suggestions from members to conduct on-line training. This was discussed at length during the recent conference call. While it seems like a good idea, the logistics are daunting.

Many companies which offer on line training have entire departments devoted to developing and deploying training content. The MCA is not large enough to support this effort. The MCA will continue to evaluate this avenue as technology evolves.


NFPA has discontinued the distribution of the book and has provided links for all chemists to use. These links are available on the MCA website. The Excom discussed possibly buying the booklets but the cost for purchase and mailing to chemists is about $8000. There is not a sufficient budget to support this.

Marine Chemists and Essential Worker Status

Phil Giles provided information on chemists being considered essential workers and the information has been posted on the website. Also, Larry Russell sent an email to all chemists from the USCG stating that all port workers are considered essential and chemists fall into this category.

Marine Chemist Clothing and Lands’ End

The MCA has established a relationship with Lands’ End where you can go to their website and purchase any item they offer and have a choice of MCA logos embroidered on it. The clothing is of high quality and they offer a wide selection from shirts to messenger bags, jackets, mugs, pants, etc.

To get to the site enter:

Once you pick an item you can select from several different logos and then decide where to place it. Many of the items are given as gifts during seminars.

Facebook Page

For those of you who are on Facebook, visit Friends of Marine Chemist Association. It is a closed group and only chemists, spouses and friends may view and post on the page. If you’d like to see the page, send a friend request to the group. We encourage all to post information, photos, comments or anything else related to our profession, seminars, and events. Please check it out.

It proved very popular when posting information about our annual seminar. Please consider sharing some on the job photos.

Results of Recent Survey

As you know, a poll was sent out to members to gather sentiment on the upcoming annual seminar. Here are the results based on 77% of chemists responding. (77% is a great response rate, thanks to all who took the time to respond).

  • Would you attend the annual seminar in San Francisco this summer in July? Please
    respond even if you were not planning on attending.
    75% said No I would not attend
  • Would you attend the 2020 annual seminar if it was postponed to the fall?
    66% Yes I would attend
  • If the 2020 annual was postponed, what month would be best? September 18%, October
    35%, November 30%, December 12%
  • If postponed to the fall, would you still go to the social events?
    75% yes I would attend
  • Upon Certification/Re-certification NFPA issues you an ID card. Is it valuable to you, if yes why?
    51% said it is not valuable

The responses will be used to determine a way forward. There are many factors to be considered but the Excom wanted to get input from members. Discussions going forward will focus on member safety and financial consequences. Thanks to all.

Respectfully submitted,
Don Raffo
Secretary/Treasurer MCA

Any opinions, policies or statements expressed in this newsletter are the personal opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of the MCA.