EPA: Penalty for unauthorized ocean dumping of sediment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined Port of Oakland $300,000 for violating Ocean Dumping Act.

According to EPA, the port paid a $300,000 penalty for unauthorized ocean dumping of sediment from one of its dredging projects.

Dutra Construction Co., Inc., the contractor hired by the port to do the dredging project, will pay an additional $173,000 in penalties, said EPA.

“Protecting the health of our oceans is a priority for EPA and unapproved dumping at sea can cause serious harm,” said EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest John Busterud.

In August 2017, Dutra Construction, working for the port, dredged over 6,000 cubic yards of sediment from an area (Berth 35), not previously tested and approved for ocean disposal.

They then dumped the sediment at the San Francisco Deep Ocean Disposal Site, about 55 miles offshore of the Golden Gate Bridge. The port also failed to report the required disposal tracking data within 24 hours.

Under the Ocean Dumping Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for disposal of dredged sediment only after EPA has concurred that the sediment is non-toxic and suitable for disposal.

Once approved and permitted, sediment may then be dumped only at an EPA-designated disposal site. There are six ocean disposal sites for dredged sediment in waters offshore of California.

Disposal is strictly prohibited outside these sites because of the potential for harm to the marine environment.

Photo: USACE

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