About Ocean Disposal


London Convention and the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act

The United States is a party to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention 1972). This is an agreement to control deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter, including dredged material, from a variety of platforms (e.g., vessel). The LC entered into force in 1975 and requires the parties to report every year on the amount and location of materials disposed at sea. The first reporting year was 1976. In 1972, the United States Congress enacted the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA). The MPRSA regulates the disposal at sea of all materials that would adversely affect human health, welfare or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems or economic potentialities. The MPRSA implements the requirements of the LC and is the legislative authority regulating the disposal of dredged material into ocean waters, including the territorial sea. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) collaborates with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to prepare an annual ocean disposal report to fulfill the LC obligation.

Dredged Materials Placed in the Ocean

The transportation of dredged material for the purpose of disposal into ocean waters is permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) or, in the case of federal projects, authorized for disposal under MPRSA Section 103, applying environmental criteria established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in the Ocean Dumping Regulations (40 CFR Parts 220-229). Section 102 of the MPRSA and 40 CFR Part 228 authorize the USEPA to designate ocean dredged material disposal sites (ODMDS) in accordance with requirements at 40 CFR Parts 228.5 and 228.6. Section 103(b) of the MPRSA requires the USACE use dredged material sites designated by USEPA to the maximum extent feasible. Where use of a USEPA-designated site is not feasible, the USACE may, with concurrence of USEPA, select an alternative site in accordance with MPRSA Section 103(b). A list of the current MPRSA Section 102 sites can be found at 40 CFR Part 228.15. USACE regulations for ocean disposal are published at 33 CFR. The USEPA and USACE jointly develop site management monitoring plans (SMMP) for each ODMDS.

For more information about ocean disposal of dredged material please visit: Ocean Dumping Regulations International Maritime Organization

Data Collection and Reporting

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency responsible for regulating shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships, administers the LC and provides guidance for collecting data. To meet LC reporting requirements, the USACE has collected and compiled LC required data every year since 1976. The data call is a complete census of USACE districts disposing of dredge material in ocean waters. The data call and review is administered by the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory (ERDC-EL), Vicksburg, MS. Funding for this effort is provided by the ERDC Dredging Operations Technical Support Program (DOTS).