Marine pollution bulletin
Incineration of hazardous waste at sea has been conducted in Europe since 1969 by six different vessels, three of which are still in operation. With the exception of a number of successful test burns from 1974 to 1982, this technology has not been utilized commercially in the United States. Several independent groups have encouraged or otherwise have supported its use including industry groups, public interest groups, as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, but all efforts to permit it have thus far been unsuccessful. One of the primary factors has been the misconceptions of the technology. This paper describes the myths that have developed about ocean incineration, its safety, its technological ability to destroy organics, its effects on the environment, its need in the overall scheme to clean our environment. These misconceptions have played an important role by contributing to the delays in the acceptance of this valuable and needed technology at both the public and regulatory levels. Several key issues are addressed and, hopefully, the myths surrounding ocean incineration will, at last, be laid to rest.