Should Sewage Sludge Be Dumped at Sea? A Point/Counterpoint




Koch, Edward I., Thomas H. Kean, and Mike Brinker

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Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Sewage sludge is treated human waste and other sewage produced in the form of a semi-solid residue from waste treatment processes. Despite a widespread public perception that ocean dumping of sludge pollutes the sea and damages marine resources, there is still an active debate on whether such ocean disposal is in fact detrimental to the marine environment and whether other sludge disposal methods are generally more acceptable. In 1977, Congress voted to end all ocean dumping by 1981 through admendments to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (commonly known as the Ocean Dumping Act). That law was, however, successfully challenged in court by New York City in 1981. The court ruled that ocean dumping of sewage sludge might continue beyond 1981 unless EPA determined, on a case-by-case basis, that dumping would unreasonably degrade the marine environment. As a result, a total of nine sewer agencies in New York City, Westchester and Nassau Counties in New York State, and New Jersey are still dumping their sewage sludge in the ocean at a dump site 106 miles east of Cape May, New Jersey..... In light of the controversy, EPA Journal asked Mayor Kock of New York City, Governor Kean of New Jersey, and Mike Brinker, Executive Director of Joint Meeting, a group of northern New Jersey agencies, to respond to the question: Should sewage sludge by dumped into the ocean? Their comments are included on pages 8-10.


pgs. 8-10


marine environment, offshore environment, sewage sludge, congress, special protection, global oceans, boston harbor, west coast, discharger, tough choices, salmon, epa divers, oil rigs, eat seafood, air toxics, great lakes