Ocean dumping of sludge and other solid waste is widely practiced in Europe and Japan. For many decades in the United States, sewage sludge was barged to approved areas on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Toxic waste to be dumped in the ocean was usually put in containers and shipped to more remote locations. While many cities, such as San Diego and San Francisco, have banned ocean dumping, others continue to barge their sludge into the sea.

The marine disposal of radioactive waste was terminated in the United States in 1967. Yet in 1968, the yearly quantity of other waste dumped in the sea was still close to 50 million tn (see Table 7.53.1). Even though Congress banned ocean dumping of sewage sludge in 1992, this form of waste disposal will probably not stop completely until the turn of the century.

Unregulated disposal beyond the boundaries of the territorial sea imperils the waters, resources, and beaches of the maritime nations. Specific legislation is needed to give national and international authorities the responsibility for preventing ocean pollution and protecting ocean resources. Creating such authorities and enforcement methods is a slow, difficult process, and no effective policy for ocean management has evolved on either the national or international level.

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