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Managing Ocean Dumping in EPA Region 9

Region 9’s Ocean Dumping Program plays an essential role in keeping our oceans safe and clean, while supporting the marine transportation system and the economy. Region 9 serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, 148 tribal nations, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Guam. Region 9 encompasses ocean waters offshore of California, the Hawaiian Islands, and U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean.

On this page:

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 9 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 Ocean Dumping Permits for additional information.

Fish Waste Disposal

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

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Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in Region 9

Dredge emptying out onto barge.Clamshell dredge emptying out dredged material onto a barge.The regulation of the disposal of dredged material in ocean waters is a shared responsibility of Region 9 and USACE San Francisco, Los Angeles and Honolulu Districts. Five major (deep draft) ports and numerous military and Homeland Security facilities are located within Region 9. Millions of cubic yards of sediments are dredged from these ports and facilities each year, much of which is disposed at EPA-designated ocean disposal sites located off the coast of California, the Hawaiian Islands, and Pacific Trust Territorial islands.

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 Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material.

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Dredged Material Testing for Ocean Disposal in Region 9

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. Local regional guidance is provided by the San Francisco Bay Long Term Management Strategy (LTMS) and its Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO) for USACE San Francisco District projects and by the Southern California Dredged Material Management Team (SC-DMMT) for USACE Los Angeles District projects.

For all other dredging projects involving ocean disposal, local sediment testing guidance is provided on a case-by-case basis, using the Ocean Testing Manual (Green Book).

To supplement the Ocean Testing Manual, the Southern California Dredged Materials Management Team has developed guidelines to aid in dredged material testing.

For more information regarding dredged material testing, including additional guidance documents, please see Testing and Evaluation.

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Ocean Disposal Site Map

EPA Region 9 is responsible for designating and managing ocean disposal sites for all types of materials in the Region. Appropriate management of ocean dumping sites is aimed at assuring that disposal activities will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health, welfare, the marine environment or economic potentialities. All but one of the currently designated ocean sites in Region 9 are for the disposal of dredged material permitted or authorized under the MPRSA. Region 9 has-designated one ocean site for the disposal of fish processing wastes off American Samoa.

Each ocean disposal sites must have a site management and monitoring plan (SMMP). Region 9, with USACE San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu Districts, is responsible for developing SMMPs for ocean dredged material disposal sites.

Region 9, often in coordination with the corresponding USACE District Office, monitors 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;
  • remote-sensing surveys such as multi-beam echo sounder, side-scan sonar, and sub-bottom profiling surveys;
  • sediment profile imagery; and
  • plan view photography.

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

The map below presents Region 9's ocean disposal sites offshore of California, the Hawaiian Islands, and U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean. Please zoom out to view the disposal sites of the Hawaiian Islands and U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean.

  • 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 9 are provided below.

California Disposal Sites

Channel Bar Site, San Francisco, CA (SF-8)

Location: 37⁰44.9124’ N, 122⁰37.3654’ W; 37⁰45.9124’ N, 122⁰34.4652’ W; 37⁰44.3958’ N, 122⁰37.1654’ W; 37⁰45.2458’ N, 122⁰34.2652’ W (NAD83)
Size: 1.22 square nautical miles
Depth: 36.09- 46.92 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Channel Bar SMMP
Monitoring Reports:

Humboldt Open Ocean Disposal Site (HOODS) Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site

Location: 40°48.416’ N, 124°16.366’ W; 40°49.050’ N, 124°17.366’ W; 40°47.633’ N, 124°17.366’ W; 40°48.283’ N, 124°18.200’ W (NAD83)
Size: 1.00 square nautical miles
Depth: 160- 180 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Monitoring Reports, Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP), and Related Documents

Los Angeles/ Long Beach, CA (LA-2)

Location: 33°37.10′ N, 118°17.40′ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.77 square nautical miles
Depth: 380- 1060 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Los Angeles/Long Beach SMMP
Monitoring Reports:

Newport Beach, CA (LA-3) Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site

Location: 33°31.00’ N, 117°53.50’ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.77 square nautical miles
Depth: 1,500- 1,675 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Newport SMMP
Monitoring Reports:

San Diego, CA (LA-5)

Location: 32⁰36.8365’ N, 117⁰20.6689’ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.77 square nautical miles
Depth: 460- 660 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: San Diego SMMP
Monitoring Reports:

San Francisco Deepwater Ocean Disposal Site (SF-DODS) ODMDS

Location: 37°39.00′ N, 123°29.00′ W (NAD83)
Size: 7.85 square nautical miles
Depth: 8,200- 9,840 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: San Francisco Deepwater SMMP
Monitoring Reports: San Francisco Deepwater Monitoring Reports
Sediment Testing Reference Area Database

Guam Disposal Sites

Guam Deep Ocean Disposal Site (G-DODS)

Location: 13°35.500′ N, 144°28.733′ E (NAD83)
Size: 7.10 square nautical miles
Depth: Average 8790.00 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Guam Deep SMMP
Monitoring Reports: Guam Deep Monitoring Reports

Hawaii Disposal Sites

Hilo, HI

Location: 19°48.50’ N, 154°58.50’ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.78 square nautical miles
Depth: 1,082.68- 1,115.49 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Hawaii SMMP
Monitoring Reports: Hawaii Monitoring Reports

Kahului, HI

Location: 21°04.700’ N, 156°29.000’ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.78 square nautical miles
Depth: 1,131.89- 1,197.51 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Hawaii SMMP
Monitoring Reports: Hawaii Monitoring Reports

Nawailiwili, HI

Location: 21°55.00’ N, 159°17.00’ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.78 square nautical miles
Depth: 2,755.91- 3,674.54 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Hawaii SMMP
Monitoring Reports: Hawaii Monitoring Reports

Port Allen, HI

Location: 21°50.00’ N, 159°35.00’ W (NAD83)
Size: 0.78 square nautical miles
Depth: 4,790.03- 5,282.15 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Hawaii SMMP
Monitoring Reports: Hawaii Monitoring Reports

South Oahu, HI

Location: 21°15.166’ N, 157°56.833’ W (NAD83)
Size: 1.52 square nautical miles
Depth: 1,312.34- 1,558.40 feet
Use: Dredged material disposal
Management Plan: Hawaii SMMP
Monitoring Reports: Hawaii Monitoring Reports

American Samoa Disposal Sites

Fish Processing Waste Disposal Site, American Samoa

Location: 14⁰23.800' S, 170⁰38.30' W (NAD83)
Size: 7.07 square nautical miles
Depth: Average 9012.00 feet
Use: Fish waste disposal
Monitoring Reports:

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Regional Dredging Teams (RDTs) and Other Partnerships

EPA Region 9 established two RDTs:

Members of the two RDTs 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. They also provide an interagency forum to coordinate permit processing including the review of sediment testing plans and results.

In addition to these RDTs, other interagency/stakeholder partnership efforts are under way in Region 9 to improve sediment management and increase beneficial reuse of dredged material. One of these is the interagency California Coastal Sediment Management Workgroup,Exit which is striving to coordinate Regional Sediment Management (RSM) issues and policies in order to maximize opportunities for beach nourishment throughout California.

EPA Region 9 is also supporting efforts to coordinate policies and improve sediment management in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta, and in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

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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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