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Managing Ocean Dumping in EPA Region 1

Region 1’s Ocean Dumping Management Program plays an essential role in keeping our oceans safe and clean, while supporting the marine transportation system and the economy. Region 1 serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and 10 tribal nations. Region 1 encompasses ocean waters offshore of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island as well as part of Long Island Sound.

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Announcements

The Proposed Rule for the Temporary Modifcation of the Massachusetts Bay Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site was published in the Federal Register on September 22, 2017. The Draft Environmental Assessment on the Expansion of the Massachusetts Bay Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site, September 2017 was also released for public comment. For more information, please visit the Massachusetts Bay Industrial Waste Site Restoration Project page. THE COMMENT PERIOD FOR THE PROPOSED RULE AND DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ENDS OCTOBER 23, 2017.


Ocean Dumping Permits

Under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), EPA is the permitting agency for the ocean disposal of all materials except dredged material. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the permitting agency for ocean disposal of dredged material. See below for additional information about ocean disposal of dredged material. EPA has issued MPRSA general permits for the ocean dumping of certain materials that may have a minimal adverse environmental impact and are generally disposed of in small quantities. In rare instances, EPA Regional Offices may issue an emergency, research or special ocean dumping permit to an individual or entity.

EPA Region 1 provides localized support and implements the following MPRSA general permits to ensure responsible disposal of wastes and other materials in their ocean waters:

Please visit our Ocean Dumping Permits Web page for additional information.

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Ocean Disposal of Fish Wastes

For information about the disposal of fish wastes in ocean waters, please see our Ocean Disposal of Fish Wastes Web page.

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Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in Region 1

DredgeHopper dredge.Under the MPRSA, EPA Region 1 and the USACE New England District share responsibility for regulation of dredged material disposal in their ocean waters as well as parts of Long Island Sound. Dredged material disposal in Long Island Sound from any federal dredging project, any dredging project pursuant to federal authorization, or a dredging project by a non-federal applicant exceeding 25,000 cubic yards is regulated under the MPRSA.

Under the MPRSA, USACE is the federal agency that decides whether to issue a permit authorizing the ocean disposal of dredged materials or authorize federal navigation projects involving ocean disposal of dredged materials. USACE relies on EPA’s ocean dumping criteria when evaluating permit requests for (and implementing federal projects involving) the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters. EPA’s ocean dumping criteria consider, among other things:

  • the need for dumping;
  • the environmental impact of the dumping, including the effect of dumping on marine ecosystems, shorelines and beaches; 
  • the effect of the dumping on esthetic, recreational or economic values;
  • the adverse effect of dumping on other uses of the ocean including navigation, scientific study, fishing and resource exploitation activities; and
  • appropriate locations and methods of disposal or recycling, including land-based alternatives.

All MPRSA permits for dredged material disposal in ocean waters, and federal projects involving dredged material disposal in ocean waters, are subject to EPA review and written concurrence. EPA may concur, concur with conditions, or decline to concur (i.e., non-concur) on the proposed permit. If EPA concurs with conditions, the final permit issued by USACE must include those conditions (for example, ocean disposal site use conditions). If EPA declines to concur on the proposed permit, the permit cannot be issued. The USACE-led review and permitting process is facilitated by early coordination, including review and approval of the sampling and analysis plan, ensuring full characterization of the project sediments proposed to be dredged.

For additional information about MPRSA permits and federal projects involving dredged material, please see our Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material Web page.

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Dredged Material Testing for Ocean Disposal in Region 1

Evaluation of dredged material for ocean disposal under the MPRSA relies largely on biological tests, using standardized procedures and test organisms, also referred to as bioassays. The ocean testing manual, also known as the “Green Book,” provides national technical guidance for determining the suitability of dredged material for ocean disposal through chemical, physical and biological evaluations. The technical guidance is intended for use by dredging applicants, laboratory scientists and regulators. Regional guidance is provided in the Regional Implementation Manual.

For more information regarding dredged material testing, including additional guidance documents, please visit our Testing and Evaluation Web page.

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Ocean Disposal Sites in Region 1

EPA Region 1 is responsible for designating and managing ocean disposal sites for all types of materials in the Region and for dredged material disposal sites in parts of Long Island Sound. Appropriate management of ocean dumping sites is aimed at assuring that disposal activities will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health, human welfare and the marine environment or cause excessive economic impacts. All currently designated ocean sites in Region 1 are for the disposal of dredged material permitted or authorized under the MPRSA.

Each ocean disposal site must have a site management and monitoring plan (SMMP). Region 1, in collaboration with the USACE, is responsible for developing SMMPs for ocean dredged material disposal sites.

Region 1 and USACE New England District monitor ocean dredged material disposal sites. Monitoring surveys may include, but are not limited to:

  • sediment analysis for physical properties;
  • sediment analysis for chemical contamination;
  • benthic infaunal community analysis;
  • video imagery from dive surveys, remotely-operated vehicles, or benthic sleds;
  • remote-sensing surveys including multibeam surveys and side-scan sonar surveys;
  • sediment profile imagery;
  • benthic trawls; and
  • water quality testing.

For additional information about monitoring at ocean disposal sites in Region 1, including technical reports, please see the USACE Disposal Area Monitoring System (DAMOS) program Web page.

Please visit our Ocean Disposal Map and Ocean Disposal Sites Web pages to view a national map of ocean disposal sites and to learn more about site management and monitoring under the MPRSA.

The map below presents Region 1's ocean disposal sites offshore of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island as well as part of Long Island Sound.

  • The size of the orange circles represents the square area of the disposal site.
  • Click on the disposal sites for more information on EPA’s ocean disposal sites.

Descriptions of the ocean disposal sites, site management and monitoring plans, and monitoring results in Region 1 are provided below. For monitoring reports, please see the USACE Disposal Area Monitoring System (DAMOS) program Web page.

Central Long Island Sound Dredged Material Site (CLDS)

Location: 41°09.5′ N, 72°54.4′ W; 41°09.5′ N, 72°51.5′ W; 41°08.4′ N, 72°54.4′ W; 41°08.4′ N, 72°51.5′ W (NAD 83)
Size: 2.42 square nautical miles
Depth: 56 - 77 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
SMMP: Central Long Island Sound SMMP

Massachusetts Bay Disposal Site (MBDS)

Location: 42°25.1′ N, 70°35.0′ W (NAD 83)
Size: 3.14 square nautical miles
Depth: Average 295.28 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Depth: Average 295.28 feet
SMMP: Massachusetts Bay SMMP

Portland Dredged Material Disposal Site (PDS)

Location: 43°34.111' N, 70°01.9386' W (NAD 83)
Size: 1.00 square nautical miles
Depth: Average 164.04 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
SMMP: Portland SMMP

Rhode Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site (RIDS)

Location: 41°14.350’ N, 71°23.483’ W, 41°14.350’ N, 71°22.150’ W, 41°13.35’ N, 71°23.483’ W, 41°13.35’ N, 71°22.150 W (NAD83)
Size: 1.00 square nautical miles
Depth: 115-128 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
SMMP: Rhode Island Sound SMMP

Western Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site

Location: 41°00.1′ N, 73°29.8′ W; 41°00.1′ N, 73°28.1′ W; 40°58.9′ N, 73°29.8′ W; 40°58.9′ N, 73°28.1′ W (NAD83)
Size: 1.56 square nautical miles
Depth: 79- 118 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
SMMP: Western Long Island Sound SMMP

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Regional Dredging Teams and Other Partnerships

The New England Regional Dredging Team has established four State Dredging Teams and the Long Island Sound Regional Dredging Team (LIS RDT). Team members cooperate in developing comprehensive regional dredged material management plans that identify short-term and long-term disposal alternatives, consider methods to reduce dredging, and maximize beneficial use of dredged materials.

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Beneficial Use

Most dredged material represents a valuable resource and should be considered for beneficial uses. Beneficial use is the placement or use of dredged material for some productive purpose from which economic, social or other benefits may be derived. Compared to disposal of dredged material in confined sites, beneficial use reduces the need for disposal. Examples of beneficial use include wetlands restoration, beach nourishment, shoreline construction, and habitat creation. The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 governs discharge of dredged or fill material into “waters of the United States”, including the placement of dredged material in the territorial sea for a purpose other than disposal.

For information on dredged material permitting under CWA 404, please see our Section 404 of the Clean Water Act Web page.

Additional beneficial use documents are available on our web page for Regulations, Guidance, and Additional Ocean Dumping Information.

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Contact Region 1

Dredged Material Disposal in Connecticut

Jean Brochi, 617-918-1536, brochi.jean@epa.gov

Dredged Material Disposal in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine

Olga Guza-Pabst, 617-918-1542, guza-pabst.olga@epa.gov

Burial at Sea

Ann Rodney, 617-918-1538, rodney.ann@epa.gov

Vessel, Fish Waste, and Marine Mammal Carcasses Disposal at Sea

Eric Nelson, 617-918-1676, nelson.ericp@epa.gov

Historic Ocean Disposal at the Industrial Waste Site (IWS, disposal discontinued), Massachusetts Bay

Alicia Grimaldi, 617-918-1806, grimaldi.alicia@epa.gov