U.S. EPA fines Port of Oakland $300,000 for violating Ocean Dumping Act
Contractor hired to do the dredging project will pay an additional $173,000
SAN FRANCISCO - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Port of Oakland paid a $300,000 penalty for unauthorized ocean dumping of sediment from one of its dredging projects, in violation of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act. Dutra Construction Co., Inc., the contractor hired by the Port to do the dredging project, will pay an additional $173,000 in penalties.
“Protecting the health of our oceans is a priority for EPA and unapproved dumping at sea can cause serious harm,” said EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest John Busterud. “Ports and harbors, and the companies that are contracted to dredge them will face substantial penalties if they do not obtain and follow their ocean disposal permits.”
In August 2017, Dutra Construction, working for the Port, dredged over 6,000 cubic yards of sediment from an area (Berth 35) that had not yet been tested and approved for ocean disposal. They then dumped the sediment at the San Francisco Deep Ocean Disposal Site, about 55 miles offshore of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Port also failed to report the required disposal tracking data within 24 hours.
Under the Ocean Dumping Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for disposal of dredged sediment only after EPA has concurred that the sediment is non-toxic and suitable for disposal. Once approved and permitted, sediment may then be dumped only at an EPA-designated disposal site. There are six ocean disposal sites for dredged sediment in waters offshore of California. Before designating these sites, EPA conducts an extensive environmental review process, including opportunities for public participation, to ensure that impacts from disposal sediment will be minimal. Disposal is strictly prohibited outside these sites because of the potential for harm to the marine environment.
For more information on ocean disposal sites in Region 9, and on EPA's role in dredged material management, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/ocean-dumping/managing-ocean-dumping-epa-region-9