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Water: Oceans, Coasts, Estuaries & Beaches

The International Connection

The MPRSA implements the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, also known as the London Convention. This is an international treaty, established in 1972, under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to create a global system to protect the marine environment from pollution caused by ocean dumping. The London Convention covers the deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms, and other man-made structures, prohibits the dumping of certain hazardous materials, and requires a permit for dumping other wastes or matter. The United States is a party to the London Convention, and is thus committed to meeting the treaty's requirements.


In 1992, the Parties to the London Convention began a comprehensive review of the Convention, which eventually resulted in the 1996 Protocol, a new, separate treaty. The United States was in the forefront of those countries negotiating the new Protocol, which is more comprehensive, stringent, and protective of the marine environment than the London Convention. One of the major differences between the two treaties is that the London Conven-tion allows ocean dumping except for a "blacklist" of prohibited materials (some of which can nevertheless be dumped if they are only present as "trace contaminants"), whereas the Protocol establishes a limited list of materials (called a "reverse list") that may be dumped after careful environmental evaluation (e.g., dredged material). The United States has signed the Protocol and is working toward ratification (by which the United States would become a party to the treaty). Although the Protocol will not be in force until 26 countries ratify it, the United States is already implementing its substantive provisions.

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