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Water: Dredged Material Management

London Convention

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The MPRSA implements the requirements of the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (known as the London Convention) (PDF) (16 pp, 105K), which is the international treaty governing ocean dumping. For more information on the London Convention, see the International Maritime Organization's London Convention website.

The London Convention covers the deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms, and other man-made structures at sea. The London Convention has 80 parties and has been very successful in combating marine pollution from dumping. The United States ratified the London Convention in 1975. The MPRSA is the U.S. law that implements this treaty.

In 1992, the Parties to the London Convention began a comprehensive review of the Convention, resulting in a new treaty called the 1996 Protocol (PDF) (22 pp, 232K). The United States was in the forefront of countries negotiating the Protocol. The United States signed the Protocol in 1998, but has not yet ratified it. The Protocol entered into force internationally on March 24, 2006.

The Parties of the London Convention have established the following Guidelines for the Assessment of Wastes or Other Matter that May be Considered for Dumping. These guidelines are intended for use by national authorities responsible for regulating dumping of wastes under the London Convention or the 1996 Protocol.

Generic guidelines (PDF) (10 pp, 103K)

Dredged material (PDF) (13 pp, 59K)

Sewage sludge (PDF) (13 pp, 40K)

Fish waste or other material resulting from industrial fish processing operations (PDF) (12 pp, 40K)

Vessels (PDF) (13 pp, 44K)

Platforms or other man-made structures at sea (PDF) (13 pp, 44K)

Inert-inorganic geological material (PDF) (9 pp, 30K)

Organic material of natural origin (PDF) (11 pp, 37K)

Bulky items (PDF) (10 pp, 33K)

The London Convention prohibits the disposal at sea of radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter. However, all materials, including natural and inert materials, contain natural radionuclides and are frequently contaminated with artificial radionuclides from such anthropogenic sources as fallout due to past atmospheric nuclear testing. Therefore, the Contracting Parties to the London Convention recognized the need to develop definitions and guidelines whereby candidate materials (those wastes or other matter not otherwise prohibited from disposal at sea in accordance with Annex I to the Convention) containing de minimis (PDF) (15 pp, 717K) levels of radionuclides could be disposed of pursuant to the provisions of this Convention.

The countries that signed the London Convention 1972 are interested in ensuring compliance with the agreements that control the dumping of wastes into the sea. Mariners or other persons who observe incidents that could be violations of the London Convention are encouraged to report these events to appropriate authorities. The Parties to the London Convention have developed a Reporting Form (PDF) (7 pp, 79K) to help observers report such incidents.

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