By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

Just wondering since we live so close to the ocean, why can’t we dump truckloads of snow into the Atlantic.  I would think there is a location that would be accessible for trucks to dump a load of snow into the ocean.  Seems like a practical answer to get rid of all the snow that is piled up everywhere especially in the city of Boston.  Just a thought. – Diane, Plymouth

And with another set of storms heading this way, where to put it all is a huge question.

But there’s one very important reason why the snow can’t be dumped in the ocean….it’s against the law.  The Clean Water Act prohibits dumping snow in the ocean, and The Wetlands Protection Act says “no” to dumping it in rivers and lakes.  Why?  Because those truckloads of snow would contain contaminants like road treating chemicals, salt and even oil and gas from cars.  Not to mention garbage picked up off the road.  All stuff that doesn’t belong in our waterways.

However, according to the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection, a city or town can ask that agency for a waiver in an emergency, but only if they can show that the snow they want to dump isn’t contaminated.  So far during this harsh winter, no city or town has asked.

Comments (51)
  1. Paul Roy says:

    Now maybe I;m wrong, but when the snow melts no matter where it is, isn’t it going to end up in the ocean anyway? Or worse, in the public water supply>

    1. Stephanie Webb says:

      Can’t agree more

      1. Brittany says:

        hahaha, good point!

  2. Rob says:

    I realize it is illegal to dump snow into the ocean and rivers but what is the difference in dumping snow on an open fiield [snow farm], and letting it melt and go into ground water or putting it in a parking lot where it will melt and go down street drains, whereas some drains drain into the ocean or harbor. Sounds like a catch 22 to me.

  3. Cynic says:

    If one teacup of Oil is going to destroy the Oceans…..Considering the thousands of Ships,(From Mini-Subs To Battleships to Aircraft Carriers)Airplanes,Bombs,Torpedos,Bullets and all the other stuff in the Oceans from the Second World War it is a wonder that we aren’t all dead.At that time I would bet that the number of people Rescuing Seagulls with Oil on thier wings was fairly close to ZERO.Believe it or not:The Oceans are made up of SALT water,And there are organisms in the Oceans that thrive on a good meal of oil.

  4. BC says:

    Oh noooo. Not salt in the ocean! Goodness…the seas would never recover from such an obscene dosage of road salt. Why, the oceans are so pure…except, of course, for the naturally occurring mercury, methane hydrates, black smokers etc. Give me a break Have we become totally disconnected from reality? Enviromentalism run amok.

  5. Stephanie Webb says:

    I bet if they could they would let us dump into the oceans or a “Wet snow dump” as long as we paid. Its harmful to dump trash any where but designate a spot and charge is and now its not so bad. Any way to make a BUCK!

  6. Chris says:

    to those who do not know, the water in the sewer system is actually heavily treated before it goes into the ocean. its cleaned so much so that it actually becomes drinkable

    1. ktsue says:

      I’m not sure that the sewer system and the rain system are the same. It seems the sewage treatment plants would have to work overtime if they had to clean all the water that goes down the storm drains, but this is definitely an area I don’t know much about…I’d be interested to learn more.

  7. blackbear1 says:

    i agree w/all of the above. this siily stuff and overregulation at a time when we are inundated with excessive snow from an unusual winter. please, we must get real!!!

  8. Michelle says:

    if you live in a community paying heavy mwr fees you would understand why it is a bad idea

    1. GW says:

      What does “mwr” mean?

  9. Chip says:

    While you are looking for ways to hang this contractor by his toes, ask your self this, Where does all the run-off from any municipalities storm drains end up? I think you will find that the private contractor here is being (or attempting to be) fined for something every municipality is hard-piped to do on a daily basis.

  10. pat says:

    why doesn’t the city of lynn ask the GE permission to pile in all their empty lots that aren’t used anymore?

  11. taxedout says:

    Thank God we have a law not to put dirty filthy snow in the ocean. Please leave that dirty fiilthy snow in your yard, in front of your house, on the bottom of your shoes away from the ocean, where it will Kill all forms off life when entering to swim this summer!!!!! We are moving in the right direction!!!!

  12. AnnoyedWithEnviros says:

    This snow is a horrifying menace on the road. You can’t see oncoming traffic, you can’t see pedestrians and God help anyone bicycling. I think four foot snowbanks constitute an emergency already, forget the feel-good environmentalism.

  13. emom says:

    Hey who wants to swim with glass, oil, gas, trash, and god knows what else.. If you dump all the snow into the ocean, what do you all think would happen,,, HHNMMM lets see, first the eco system could be harmed, next the seafood, you eat will be contaminated more so, seafood and shellfish would suffer and possibly die. Has anyone forgot the gulf oil spill.. Oh wait no one has come up sick or dead YET from eating contaminated seefood, Just wait stories of birth defects will surface and illnesses will surely follow.

  14. avoidong this storm in Florida says:

    If it can’t be dumped in the ocean why can’t it be brought to a holding tank that will go through purification process and used for summer droughts?

    1. Brittany says:

      that’s a good idea, i like your thinking!

      1. avoiding this storm in Florida says:

        Thanks. A quick Google search brought up this company, ; don’t know much about it but it seems if we have the technology for smart phones, hybrids, and space exploration we can convert massive amounts of snow into our water supply and at the very least delay a summer drought.

  15. A. Greene Piece says:

    Hey EMOM every time you “drop” one in the toilet you are polluting our ocean and possible some nearsighted fish. Did mommy wipe your nose and tie your shoes through high school. Wake up and get a dose of reality this isn’t Kansas.

  16. Ernie says:

    Let’s just dump it all at Foxboro stadium. It’s not like it’s going to be used for anything till long after the snow melts.

    1. ktsue says:

      LOL…so true!!!! But I bet somehow you’d have MORE trouble dumping it there…they wouldn’t want to dirty up their playing field for next year. Imagine if we dumped all the snow there, and when it melted, we found Whitey Bulger!

  17. kelly says:

    You MA people complain too much no wonder why your all so high strung.

  18. Joe Donovan says:

    Kelly is right. So many of you, just complain—–so negative. The glass is always half empty. You never had it so good!

    1. Brittany says:

      so not being able to see traffic on the road you’re about to pull out onto because the snowbanks are piled up so high is a good thing?

      1. Brittany says:

        I don’t see where you can get something positive out of that…

  19. Cynic says:

    Mother Nature doesn’t care whether you like her Snow or not…..She doesn’t watch TV so she probably doesn’t even know that everyone is so bent out of shape.

  20. emom says:

    HHmm, I see , well then the only solution is to gather buckets of this sludge, bring it home let it melt, and use it to cook with, drink, service to your pets, bathe in, wash laundry in . and well ENJOY IT AS YOUR NEXTCUP OF HOT COCOA…
    If you all feel its so safe,, Drink p and enjoy… I rather not drink that sludge, especially since so many folks use that ICE MELT product, whick is a chemical, and not to mention the various autop parts buries into the stuff, Yeah like thats all safe,, Oh and I dont buy my seafood that comes from this harbor,thank you very much, I know whats there, Deep sea is where I get it from, But hey more for the rest of you to enjoy , I will pass on the sludge ,… ENJOY ….. THE TOXIC WASTE SLUDGE…

  21. emom says:

    Drink and enjoy ,slight typo,,, BUT Dont forget the fine filter system your going to need it, oh and purification pills, good luck

  22. response says:

    emom, as long as it’s not yellow snow…you’re good to go

  23. emom says:

    response,,, NO WAY,, I rather spring water ,,, that waste stuff might grow a third arm or maybe a few eyes.. besides, I rather leave it for all those that seem to feel its so safe that they can give it to babies and not worry …. If I want sludge to drink I would get a cup of s_ _ _ b_ _ _ _.. or go to a forgieng country… thanks but NO TRANKS

  24. A. Greene Piece says:

    Actually drinking urine isn’t all that bad. Emom do you touch doorknobs?

  25. emom says:

    OH really ,, so you must know then.. wow.. oh wait I know same games different players. haha ha ha .. figures, some things never change… enjoy the fun oh and drink up cause there is plenty to go around, how about a dirty martini,,,, or maybe a snowball margarita…. enjoy….

  26. Laura says:

    LOL @ all the idiots making comments about salt in the ocean. You DO realize there are many kinds of salts. NaCl (aka table salt) isn’t the only kind! The ions in the ocean are mostly Na+ and Cl- ions, which make up the type of salt most people think of when they think salt.
    Salt used for melting snow CAN be NaCl, but NaCl is the least effective at melting snow, and will not melt snow if temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. KCl, CaCl, and MgCl are much more effective, and are commonly used.
    Really? This is basic chemistry folks… Did you GO to school at all?

  27. Chuck L. says:

    What we should be using are Snow Melters, trucks or trailers that turns snow into water that either goes into a tank or down the storm drains. Will it use fuel to melt the snow? Yes, but far less than it costs to truck it somewhere.

  28. ron ballard says:


  29. emom says:

    @ A. Greene Piece, Just a tid bit if info for you ,, I actually NEVER touch handles of doors ever, Especially bathrooms. You see, having a kid I know all the places that are so gross and germy that I have no need to touch them. and Besides I actually USE SOAP when washing my hands with warm water, unlike so many in this world. ,,,, But I guess you are aware of that.. Oh and when I dry my hands I use the paper towel to handle the door handle… SO NO GERMS to fear here. But hey drink up and enjoy I am sure you know where to find it. good luck …

  30. emom says:

    Lets see , decades ago ROCK SALT was widely used, ,Today we have a substitute ICE MELT products. However, thru using this product problems arose, cautions where put on the packages and well if you have small pets you should not use it around them as they lick their paws and can get sick , real sick. also kids can get real sick.. Also these products create HEAT to melt ice, this happens when it hits the ice , snow and even water… Its a chemical reaction that cause this… WOULD anyone want this stuff in there body,,, I doubt it,.,,Oh and the rock salt you use to melt the ice and snow, ahhh it is not your table salt and is different than ocean salt.. also you are not to ingest wither of these products its Poisonous,,, but if anyone prefers the stuff in their water well enjoy it,, have a side of fish with that too.,

  31. emom says:

    Ah it appears that a poor little kitten has suffered chemical burns from the products we use to melt snow and ice, I beleive these products have always stated keep away from animals and chicldren as it is dangerous,, Ah but dump all the snow in the water supply and you can get sick. THE POOR CAT , HE IS LUCKY TO BE ALIVE

  32. Laura says:

    @emom I totally agree. It’s dangerous stuff… not at all the same stuff you find in the ocean.
    But, to your not touching the door knobs:
    just a heads up, it’s all in vain, unless you dispense paper towels before washing your hands. If you touch the lever to dispense your paper towels after washing your hands, you are reintroducing microorganisms.
    You should also not touch the sink to turn it off… instead use a paper towel. or else you are just touching what your dirty hands, and other people’s dirty hands touched. You actually might as well not wash your hands if you touch the sink bare-handed to turn it off. Think about it.

    So it should go:
    dispense paper towels
    wash hands
    dry hands
    use a dry paper towel to turn off water
    use a dry paper towel to open the door

    I’m going to school to become a nurse… I know this stuff. This is how I wash my hands, ALL the time.

    Go ahead, anyone, call me crazy. But when you end up with some nasty infection, and I don’t, I’ll be the one who gets the last laugh.

    1. snowangel says:

      Honest to God…I swear that people’s avoidance of all things with germs on them simply causes this world to be sicker. You need to let bodies build up a tolerance to things so you have strong immune systems. No, I don’t want to lick a doorknob or a bathroom floor, but most of the time, little germs don’t hurt anyone, and I am someone who very very rarely gets sick. But I see little kids who are constantly coddled and their hands wiped down with antibacterial wipes and this and that, and they seem to be sick ALL THE TIME! Get over it.

      1. Laura says:

        See, there is a difference in avoiding all things germs, and knowing how to properly wash your hands.
        Roll around in the mud? Sure. Play in the dirt? Sure.
        Not make every attempt to keep public restroom germs in the public restroom? No.
        I’m rarely ever sick. I’m not a freak about all things germs. But I firmly believe in washing your hands through out the day, especially during cold and flu season. It’s common sense.

        I have issues with strangers’ fecal matter. If you don’t, thats your prerogative.

  33. emom says:

    @laura, Its funny you mention all this I am no nurse WHOEVER< have been doing this for over 10 years,,, Your absolutly correct, I get amazed at those that become sick , they make the same mistakes every time. always touching surfaces that can be germ infested and then touch them selfs. Like I said I have a kid so Have seen how fast something can spread.. You only have to learn once to becarefull all the time. You would think many with kids would see how germs get spread, to many just dont. But caution is not a practice, Well at least my kid learns those lessons,. even with the chemicals tha can cause issues,,,
    basic knowlege just have to read the package.

    1. Laura says:

      @emom I have a kid too, and I totally get what you are saying! You see it so much in the daycare! One kid comes in sick, and then everyone is sick!
      My son is only 20 months old, but he is always sanitizing his hands! Whenever he sees a pump of sanitizer he points to it. I guess it’s because he sees mommy doing it. :) Gotta teach them young.

  34. emom says:

    I just love watching parents letting their kids put stuf in their mouths but never truely know how filthy it is,, I walk away and shake my head, even my kid knows its wrong, But try telling them that and they say its no big deal,, YEAh thats why your kid has a stuff, runny, bogger filled nose when its warm out, I am gratefull me and my child hardly get sick, we stay healthy by not risking catching something. I dont even use those germicides, Hand washing with soap and warm water is the best, We have good germs on our bodies which help keep us healthy, strip them away and you will get sick, Germicide gels take the good germs away with the bad, limit the use of those ….. over use is never a good think, I use clorox wipes thru out the house, cleaning areas people touch even at the little kids height,, It works and I have not had a cold in years,. But daycare is so germy why do parents not see that sending their kids in sick will get others sick,, Crazy fools

  35. Arlene says:

    Pat, you have a GREAT IDEA! Why doesn’t someone ask the people over at GE if we can use their vacant lots for this snow? It will do double duty–a place for all this snow and a place the kids can play in the snow without parents worrying about their kids. Well, maybe Security over at the GE won’t like the second half. Still, Pat you have a great idea.

  36. my town still does this despite it being illegal

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