Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act
Encyclopedia
Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) or Ocean Dumping Act is one of several key environmental law
Environmental law
Environmental law is a complex and interlocking body of treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations, and common law that operates to regulate the interaction of humanity and the natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity...

s passed by the US Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1972. The Act has two essential aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize any related research. While the MPRSA regulates the ocean dumping of waste and provides for a research program on ocean dumping, it also provides for the designation and regulation of marine sanctuaries. The act regulates the ocean dumping of all material beyond the territorial limit (3 miles (4.8 km) from shore) and prevents or strictly limits dumping material that "would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities‚ÄĚ. The MPRSA authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate ocean dumping of materials included, but not limited to, industrial waste, sewage sludge, biological agents, radioactive agents, NBC, garbage, chemicals, and biological and laboratory, as well as other wastes, into the territorial waters of the United States through a permit program. The EPA can issue permits for dumping of materials other than dredge spoils if the agency determines, through a full public notice and process, that the discharge will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health or welfare or the marine environment. The law also has provisions related to creating marine sanctuaries, conducting ocean disposal research and monitoring coastal water quality.

Background

For much of history, the ocean was used generally as a dumping ground for many types of waste such as garbage, acid rain and toxins. One area off the coast of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 was used in the beginning of the 19th century as a disposal area for sewage sludge
Sludge
Sludge refers to the residual, semi-solid material left from industrial wastewater, or sewage treatment processes. It can also refer to the settled suspension obtained from conventional drinking water treatment, and numerous other industrial processes...

. This area is now known as the "12-Mile Dumping Ground," and has a large amount of toxic metal
Toxic metal
Toxic metals are metals that form poisonous soluble compounds and have no biological role, i.e. are not essential minerals, or are in the wrong form. Often heavy metals are thought as synonymous, but lighter metals also have toxicity, such as beryllium, and not all heavy metals are particularly...

s. Divers are still advised to avoid the area due to the high level of refuse materials and toxins. Because ocean contaminants know no boundaries, there have been international and regional parameters established over the last 39 years. These regulations consist of regional treaties and conventions related to local marine pollution problems and international conventions that provide a standardized control of worldwide marine pollution. In the early 1970s the United States endorsed the MSRPA to regulate any waste disposal in marine waters that are within U.S. jurisdiction.

Title I

Title I of the MPRSA prohibits all ocean dumping, except that allowed by permits, in any ocean waters under U.S. jurisdiction, by any U.S. vessel, or by any vessel sailing from a U.S. port. EPA designates sites for ocean dumping and specifies in each permit where the material is to be disposed. Nearly all of the ocean dumping that takes place today is dredged materials at the hands of the Corps of Engineers and due to the fact that they are the entity primarily responsible for the dredging, they issue permits for ocean dumping of such materials. The dredged materials are sediments removed from the bottom of water bodies, but before they are dumped in the ocean, they must be evaluated to ensure that they are not harmful to human health or to the marine environment.

The basic objective of the permit program is to "prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 waters of any material that would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s, or economic potentialities." The Secretary of the Army
United States Secretary of the Army
The Secretary of the Army is a civilian official within the Department of Defense of the United States of America with statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and...

 (through the Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

) is authorized to issue permits for dredged material disposal, and EPA is authorized to designate appropriate dump sites.

Dumping restrictions were enacted for both U.S. flag vessels and materials transported from a location outside the U.S. With respect to the latter category, dumping was prohibited within the U.S. territorial sea and the U.S. contiguous zone. A specific dumping prohibition was included for radiological, chemical and biological warfare agents, high-level radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

 and medical waste
Medical waste
Medical waste, also known as clinical waste, normally refers to waste products that cannot be considered general waste, produced from healthcare premises, such as hospitals, clinics, doctors offices, veterinary hospitals and labs.-Europe:...

s. Restrictions have since been placed on dumping activities in the New York Bight
New York Bight
The New York Bight is a slight indentation along the Atlantic coast of the United States, extending northeasterly from Cape May Inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island...

 Apex, and sewage sludge dumping at the "106-Mile Site" offshore of New Jersey ended in 1992.

Title II

Title II of the Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

 (NOAA)) to coordinate a research and monitoring program with the EPA and the United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

. The NOAA conducts general research on ocean resources and is responsible for research on the effects of ocean dumping, pollution, overfishing, and other issues caused by humans that cause changes in the marine ecosystem. The EPA's research is related to the phasing out of ocean disposal activities and its role includes conducting research, surveys, investigations, experiments, training, demonstrations, and studies to aid in their search for dumping alternatives.

This program is designed as a long-term research program to study the "possible long-range effects of pollution, overfishing, and man-induced changes of ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s" and to conduct the research required to find dumping alternatives and to consider, in cooperation with other Federal agencies, the feasibility of regional management plans for waste disposal in coastal areas. Congressional reports are required annually.

Title III

Title III allows the Secretary of Commerce to designate discrete areas as National Marine Sanctuaries after conferring with the heads of involved federal agencies and state and local governments, as appropriate. The establishment of these sanctuaries is important in helping to promote comprehensive management of their special conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research, educational, or aesthetic resources. The importance and primary objective of a sanctuary is to protect its features and allow the ocean to be used in a natural and sustainable way. Sanctuaries provide a safe haven for endangered species, or those close to extinction, while also serving educational purposes for students and researchers alike to promote understanding and stewardship of our oceans.

Title IV

Title IV of the MPRSA established nine regional marine research boards for the purpose of developing comprehensive marine research plans, considering water quality and ecosystem conditions and research and monitoring priorities and objectives in each region. The plans, after approval by the NOAA and EPA, are to guide NOAA in awarding research grants funds under this title of the act.

Title V

Title V launched a national coastal water quality monitoring program that directs the EPA and NOAA together to implement a long-term program to collect and analyze scientific data on the environmental quality of coastal ecosystems, including ambient water quality, health and quality of living resources, sources of environmental degradation, and data on trends. Results of these actions are used to provide the information required to devise and execute effective programs under the Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act.

Amendments

In 1977, Congress amended the Act to require that dumping of municipal sewage sludge or industrial wastes, which unreasonably degrade the environment, to cease by December 1981. Because that deadline was not achieved, amendments were passed in 1988 that extended the deadline to December 1991. In 1986 amendments, Congress directed that ocean disposal of all wastes end at the traditional 12-mile site off the New York/New Jersey coast and that they be moved to a new site 106 miles offshore. Congress amended the Act again in 1992, giving permission to states to adopt ocean dumping standards more stringent than federal standards and to require that permits conform with long-term management plans for designated dumpsites. This amendment was put into place to ensure that permitted activities are consistent with expected uses of the site.

Enforcement

The violation of a permit or permit requirement carries a civil penalty of not more than $50,000 per violation that is assessed by the EPA. The organization is also authorized to assess criminal penalties that carry fines up to $250,000, 5 years in prison, or both for violations of the act. Additionally, fines are assessed for ocean dumping of medical wastes that carry the same penalties previously listed.Like many other federal environmental laws, the Ocean Dumping Act allows individuals to bring a citizen suit in U.S. district court against any person, including the United States, for violation of a permit or other prohibition, limitation, or criterion issued under title I of the Act.

See also

  • Operation CHASE
    Operation CHASE
    Operation CHASE was a United States Department of Defense program that involved the disposal of unwanted munitions at sea from May 1964 into the early 1970s....

  • Marine debris
    Marine debris
    Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human created waste that has deliberately or accidentally become afloat in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or...

  • MARPOL 73/78
    MARPOL 73/78
    Marpol 73/78 is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978....

     (1973 & 1978 treaties)
  • OSPAR Convention
  • Water Framework Directive
    Water framework directive
    The Water Framework Directive is a European Union directive which commits European Union member states to achieve good qualitative and quantitative status of all water bodies The Water Framework Directive (more formally the Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23...

     (European Union)
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
    Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
    The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972, commonly called the "London Convention" or "LC '72555" and also barbie abbreviated as Marine Dumping, is an agreement to control pollution of the sea by dumping and to encourage regional agreements...

    (1972)
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK