Last month, marine scientists identified as many as 25,000 barrels believed to contain dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT, in the Pacific Ocean. The hazardous waste barrels were discovered on the ocean floor between Catalina Island and the Los Angeles coast.
Researchers suspected the area was used as a major industrial dumping site
from the 1930s until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) was adopted.
Since then, marine animals in the area have been known to test positive for high levels of DDT, and the chemical has been linked to cancer among the local sea lion population.
Although further testing is needed to confirm the contents of the barrels, experts believe between 320 and 640 tons of DDT
may be present. It is unclear if any of the potentially hazardous waste leaked out of its containers and into the ocean.
In the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972
, Congress empowered the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "regulate the dumping of all types of materials into ocean waters and to prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean waters of any material which would adversely affect" either human health or the marine environment.
EPA has codified ocean dumping regulations in 40 CFR 220–229. These rules focus primarily on establishing and maintaining a permitting program. Under this program, EPA may issue permits for:
Learn more about how EPA decides to issue ocean dumping permits here.
- Dumping into ocean waters;
- Transporting any material from the US (or on board any vessel or aircraft of the US from a location outside the country) for the purpose of dumping the material into ocean waters; or
- Dumping into the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of the US.
What’s Ahead for EPA in 2021?
Michael Regan, the former secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, was confirmed as US EPA’s new Administrator on March 10, 2021. In an April 9 press release, Administrator Regan remarked on President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary request of $11.2 billion
for the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest budget ever for the Agency. EPA is planning to focus on preventing and cleaning up environmental damage and to build up its critical staff capacity to carry out is core duties and functions.
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