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LEGAL FRAMEWORK

health, to harm living resources and marine life…”. Consistent with these requirements,

materials

dumped

must

not

contain

contaminants, such as PCBs, above trace contaminant parameters. However as discussed in the introduction to this section and further in the Human Health Risk section, the Ex- ORISKANY post-sinking fish data, clearly shows contamination of the food chain by PCBs existing within the hull of this vessel.

Artificial reefing of contaminated ships is not consistent with the aim of the London Convention but rather imposes a violation and misapplication of an appropriate exception. The stated alternative purpose (artificial reef) is in fact detrimental to marine life and sustainable fish populations both from ecosystem alteration and from ecosystem contamination.

SINKEX SINKEX does not fit within the confines of the Convention’s environmental protection aim, nor is it protective in this regard from contamination of Article 4’s priority blacklisted materials described above. As discussed, the sudden presence of a ship hulk on the sea bottom can be an ecosystem altering event, and

the presence of PCBs in any concentration above trace amounts violates the primary objective of the Convention and introduces a blacklisted pollutant into the marine environment that is a known hazard to human health, living resources and marine life.

Violations In conclusion, both SINKEX and artificial reef dumping can be considered a violation, if not of the letter, then certainly of the spirit of the London Convention, a treaty to which the United States is a full Party and obliged to uphold.

The United States is required to “…take in its territory appropriate measures to prevent and punish conduct in contravention of the provisions of this Convention” (Article VII (2)). This requires first that the United States create legislation implementing the Convention. Then, if violations of such laws occur, the courts and the Department of Justice can prosecute.

Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act

The United States enforces the laws of the London Convention through the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA). The EPA’s ocean dumping management program enforces MPRSA and “regulates ocean dumping to protect the environment from any material that will degrade or endanger human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities.”

Ocean dumping is prohibited by the MPRSA; however, the EPA has the authority to issue a permit and exception to the law in rare instances. These exceptions are granted for the dumping of the following materials: dredged material (sediments removed from the bottom

of water bodies in order to maintain navigation channels and berthing areas), fish waste, human remains, and vessels.14

Artificial Reefs The MPRSA definition of dumping excludes the intentional placement of materials for a purpose other than disposal when otherwise regulated by federal or state law or occurs pursuant to an authorized Federal or State program. “Because the placement of a vessel to create an artificial reef is regulated under other federal laws, the

14

http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/oceans/regulatory/dumpdredged/oc eandumping.html

BASEL ACTION NETWORK

11

2011

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