Boater Info

 Seagull eating unencapsulated foam.  Picture from the Pacifica Beach Coalition

Marine foam is found as flotation under docks and floating homes. Unfortunately, you can also find foam pieces floating in Oregon's waterways, collecting in marinas and littering the shores.  Good marine construction practices keep foam where it belongs.  Encapsulating (covering) all "white bead" foam used in docks, boathouses or floating homes can prevent foam pieces from breaking off and entering the water.


Encapsulation makes good sense and it's the law in Oregon.  If you are planning to use foam in a marine construction project, you need to obtain a Foam Encapsulation Certification from the Oregon State Marine Board.


White Bead Foam

Oregon's encapsulation law applies to expanded polystyrene "white bead" foam used as flotation in waterways. In a closed-cell foam, the gas forms discrete pockets, each completely surrounded by the solid material. The gas pockets are sealed from each other so they cannot soak up water. Because gaps are left between the beads, white bead foam tends to break down into small pieces when it rubs against other surfaces or the river bottom. The pieces enter the water, where they can endanger waterfowl and fish that mistake foam for food. Please help protect wildlife and water quality by encapsulating your foam.


Benefits of EncapsulationFoam pollution image

Covered foam lasts longer than uncovered foam. Once the initial investment is made, you will be rewarded with reduced maintenance time and costs, and a longer life expectancy for your structure. Fewer foam pieces in the water will improve the appearance of your facility, making it more enjoyable for everyone and more attractive to potential customers.


Which Projects Require a Certification?

Below are the basic rules for encapsulating white bead foam. To determine if your project requires a Foam Encapsulation Certification, call the Marine Board for a copy of the complete rules or find them here: ORS 830.955​.


THREE STEPS: Foam encapsulation for placement under a new dock

1. Determine if a Certification Form is required
  • For all new structures placed on the water after January 1992, you must encapsulate all white bead foam and submit a Foam Encapsulation Certification form to the Marine Board.
  • Alterations, additions, repairs and maintenance to structures placed on the water after January 1992 also require encapsulation and certification.
  • For remodeling or repairs to structures placed on the water before 1992, special rules and exceptions apply. See OAR 250-014-0050 ​for more details.

2. Complete the Encapsulated Foam Certification form
Complete the ONLINE Encapsulated Foam Certification Form.

A. The Certification Form may be completed and signed by the owner, an authorized agent, or contractor.
B. In Section 2 of the Form, enter the location of property where the project is to take place. Information on the waterway description may be obtained from a topographic map or boating chart.
C. You may check more than one box in Section 3 for the Project Type. If more than one box applies, specify the number of floating structures for each proposed project.
D. You may check more than one box in Section 5 on Material and Methods of Encapsulation. Give the thickness of the encapsulated material, product name, and estimate the amount of foam to be used for each proposed project in cubic feet and/or number of billets.

3. There are no fees associated with the Certification Form.
Please allow 10 working days for review and approval.
Remember, an approved Certification Form does not relieve the applicant from obtaining other federal, state, or local permits, licenses, or approvals which may be required.
If you need information or assistance regarding the Encapsulation Program, please contact the Marine Board's Environmental Coordinator, James Cogle at (503) 378-2611.
Excerpt from OAR 250-014-0030 

(5) The following materials or methods of encapsulation are approved:

(a) Treated dimensional wood, 1.5 inches (actual) or more in thickness. Non-Treated dimensional wood 4.0 inches or more in thickness and round wood logs are permitted.
(b) Treated plywood 0.5 inches or more in thickness. Non-Treated marine grade plywood 0.5 inches or more in thickness is permitted.
(c) Concrete 1.0 inch or more in thickness.
(d) Galvanized steel 0.065 inch or 16 gauge or more in thickness.
(e) Liquid coatings, 30 mils or more in thickness, chemically or securely bonded. 

(f) Rigid (hard) plastics, 50 mils or more in thickness.

(g) Fiberglass and plastic resins, 30 mils or more in thickness, chemically or securely bonded.
(h) Pliable (soft) plastic sheets, 7 mils or more in thickness, chemically or securely bonded. Multiple layers of single plastic sheets less than 7 mils in thickness are not permitted. The process of using shrink wrap is permitted.

(6) All fuel floats or floating structures used to store, maintain or repair boat engines shall be encapsulated with materials that are not subject to degradation by fuel oils or products.