Abstract: Objectives of Regulations Versus Understanding of Geologic Processes--Ocean-Disposal Case
R. H. Burroughs
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (PL 92-500) and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (PL 92-532) have provisions to constrain ocean-disposal activities. The former law mandates such goals as fishable and swimmable waters. The latter requires controls to prevent or limit strictly disposal of material which would harm either human health, ecologic systems, or economic potentialities. Actual implementation of these goals is achieved through a series of regulations.
An examination of the regulations and the state of scientific knowledge concerning shelf-sedimentation processes yields several conclusions. First, neither the laws nor the regulations make sufficiently explicit in terms of geologic processes the relevant observations that are necessary to approve or deny a specific action under them. Second, both laws in essence require geologic process information in arriving at final judgments. However, neither specifies how it is to be used nor acknowledges the level of uncertainty that presently accompanies analyses of the relevant sedimentation processes. Therefore, disputes may occur because of the ambiguities in the regulations, the uncertainty in the accompanying science, or the relation of the two.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90968©1977 AAPG-SEPM Annual Convention and Exhibition, Washington, DC