Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act Compliance Monitoring
In 1972, Congress enacted the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act) to prohibit the dumping of material into the ocean that would unreasonably degrade or endanger human health or the marine environment. Virtually all material ocean dumped today is dredged material (sediments) removed from the bottom of water bodies in order to maintain navigation channels and berthing areas. Other materials that are currently ocean disposed include fish wastes, human remains and vessels.
Ocean dumping cannot occur unless a permit is issued under the MPRSA. In the case of dredged material, the decision to issue a permit is made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), using EPA's environmental criteria and subject to EPA's concurrence. For all other materials, EPA is the permitting agency. EPA is also responsible for designating recommended ocean dumping sites for all types of materials.
EPA conducts monitoring and surveillance of ocean dumping of all materials. EPA may inspect dredging operations and typically requires inspectors to accompany disposal events and utilizes automated tracking equipment to ensure compliance with disposal permit conditions. Often other sensors or equipment are required on disposal vessels to ensure that they do not spill or leak material en route to an ocean disposal site. Inspection reports, remote sensing data, and other records are used for enforcement and to assist industry in improving its compliance capabilities. EPA also routinely conducts numerous compliance assistance activities pertaining to the ocean dumping program. EPA sometimes performs some of theses activities with the USACE.
EPA and USACE developed a Guidance Document for Development of Site Management Plans for Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Sites.