Ocean Dumping Law and Legal Definition

Ocean dumping refers to the dumping of materials like garbage, construction and demolition debris, sewage sludge, dredge material, and waste chemicals in the ocean. Materials in the ocean are often dumped on the continental shelf. In some cases, ocean dumping is regulated and controlled, while some dumping occurs haphazardly by ships and tankers at sea, or illegally within coastal waters. Most states also have a number of laws and regulations to control operations.

Law relating to ocean dumping is codified under the federal statute, Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, (33 USCS § 1401 through 33 USCS § 1445). Congress declares that it is the policy of the U.S. to regulate the dumping of all types of materials into ocean waters and to prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean waters of any material which would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities.

Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, provides certain regulation that includes :

1.No person shall transport from the U.S., any material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters;

2. In the case of a vessel or aircraft registered in the U.S. or flying the U.S. flag or in the case of a U.S. department, agency, or instrumentality, no person shall transport from any location any material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters; and

(3) No person shall dump any material transported from a location outside the U.S.:

a. Into the territorial sea of the U.S.; or

b. Into a zone contiguous to the territorial sea of the U.S., extending to a line twelve nautical miles seaward from the base line from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, to the extent that it may affect the territorial sea or the territory of the U.S.****[40 CFR 220.1]

The risks associated with ocean dumping are:

1. occupational accidents, injuries, and exposures;

2.exposure of the public to hazardous or toxic materials washed up on beaches; and

3. Consumption of fish and shellfish contaminated from radioactive wastes may pose a serious problem worldwide because of nuclear waste dumping in the oceans.