Dumping at Sea
A ‘scupper’, technically, is a hole in a ship’s side to allow water to run off the deck.1 But with the somewhat tortured logic that only the English language can boast, if you scupper a ship, it means you sink it deliberately.
Anyway, it is a criminal offence to do this – notably to a ship, but actually to any vessel – unless you have a special permit. In fact, in accordance with the Dumping at Sea Control Act 1980, the following are all criminal offences, unless the deed was a reasonable step in order to save human life, or to prevent damage to or secure the safety of any vessel, aircraft or structure at sea (referred to as a ‘vessel’).
- To dispose of into the sea, or incinerate at sea, (in other words, ‘dump’) any of the following:
- organohalogens, cadmium, mercury and their compounds;
- persistent plastics, other persistent synthetic materials;
- substances for biological or chemical warfare; or
- high-level radio-active matter or waste.
- To dump, or to load onto any vessel in order to dump, any of the following without a special permit:
- arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, organosilicon, beryllium, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and their compounds;
- cyanides, fluorides and pesticides;
- containers and scrap metal;
- radio-active waste and matter;
- any substance or article whose bulk may interfere with fishing or navigation; or
To dispose of any vessel at sea without a special permit.
It is also a crime to dump anything else, or load up anything else for dumping, without a general permit.
- Unless proven that they forbid the conduct and took all reasonable steps to prevent it:
- the master and the owner of the vessel;
- the pilot and the owner of the aircraft;
- the person in charge and the owner of the structure,
will also be guilty of the offences mentioned above.
Where dumping has taken place under a permit, the master, pilot or person-in-charge must immediately report it to the Director General: Environmental Affairs.
Anyone who obstructs or assaults any officer exercising powers of inspection under the Dumping at Sea Control Act 1980, commits a crime.
- Anyone who fails to comply with a demand of such officer, in the performance of his duties, commits a crime.
The word comes from the ancient French ‘escopir’, which means ‘to spit’. ↩