Washington International Law Journal


The London Convention prohibits the dumping of hazardous materials into the ocean. This prohibition may, however, be suspended in emergencies. The bow of the M/V New Carissa ("New Carissa "), which contained approximately 135,000 gallons of oil, was dumped into the Pacific Ocean under the emergency provisions of the London Convention. An analysis of the dumping of the New Carissa illustrates the weaknesses of these provisions. As written, the provisions are ambiguous and open to varying interpretations. As a result, nations may use the emergency provisions as loopholes to dump substances that they would otherwise be prohibited from dumping, thereby undermining the purpose of the Convention. Furthermore, because the London Convention does not provide for international monitoring and enforcement, there is less incentive for nations to comply with the Convention's dumping prohibitions and a greater likelihood that the emergency provisions will be loosely interpreted. Left unresolved, such weaknesses could have severe international implications. The emergency provisions should be read restrictively in light of the precautionary policy and purpose of the London Convention and should be clarified to ensure they are uniformly applied by Contracting Parties.

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