Water: Dredged Material Management
Ocean Dumping and Dredged Material Management
Top photo: Split hull dredge dumping material.
Middle photo: Hopper dredge at a dredging site.
Bottom photo: Port Fourchon, Louisiana in 2001. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
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 waterbodies 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, 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.