Monday, April 05, 2010

My Freezer is colder than Challenger Deep

When I checked my blog stats today I noticed that I had a referral from the Deep Storage Project website. I wrote about these guys a few times last year and not in a very flattering way, I might add (I must have been mad at Oreo; my blog post is ridiculous).

I clicked through some of the pages and found that even though they've had to push their timeline back by about a year, it looks like the "artist" known on "Hornsleth" still plans on dumping a really ugly 24 foot sculpture stuffed with medical waste into the Marianas Trench.

I have a problem with that.

First of all, the coordinates they give on their website, 12° 55' 25" N / 166° 11' 59" E would put the future site of their planned crime scene somewhere between the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Wake Island. I have marked the Deep Storage Project coordinates on the map below with an "A." Notice how far away it is from the 1000 mile long Marianas Trench.

deep storage projectFor the record, I've been to the Marshall Islands. It is 8 hours by plane away from Guam and is nowhere near the Marianas Trench. "Hornsleth" is either really bad at geography or is hoping you don't know how to read a map.

As I worked my way through the website I noticed that the "artist" has picked up a few "advisors" from Guam. Two of them are professors at the University and one is Guam's Delegate to the United States Congress, Representative Madeleine Bordallo. Another page on the website has pictures of "Hornsleth" during his recent visit to Guam. It is accompanied by an essay from a Guam art teacher that references an "uninformed, political activist, environmentalist." I'm guessing that's me.

horsleth guamI actually have to give "Hornsleth" credit here. He obviously cares what the local people think and I am impressed that he took the time to fly all the way to Guam to hear some local concerns. The only problem is that Challenger Deep, the deepest, darkest place in the world's ocean's, the place "Hornsleth" advertises as the place where he is going to dump his sculpture, is in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), not Guam.

challenger deepYou see, Challenger Deep lies outside the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States. I hope the President of the FSM and the Governor of Yap don't mind that "Hornsleth" went to Guam instead of coming to visit them.

Or perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps "Hornsleth" doesn't intend to dump his sculpture at the coordinates on his website or in the deepest, darkest place in the world's oceans. Perhaps he went to Guam because he plans to dump his sculpture in a portion of the Marianas Trench within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone.

Well, if that's true then I have some really bad news for him. The entirety of the submerged lands making up the Marianas Trench within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone is protected as a part of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. If he dumps his sculpture there, he'll be breaking the law.

On Page 3, in the first paragraph under the heading Management of the Marine National Monument, the Presidential Proclamation creating the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument reads, "The Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce shall not allow or permit any appropriation, injury, destruction, or removal of any feature of this monument except as provided for by this proclamation or as otherwise provided by law."

Dumping the sculpture within the borders of the monument would get "Hornsleth" in trouble with both Interior (United States Fish & Wildlife Service) and Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration). He might want to rethink his plans.

In fact, if he plans on sailing from Guam, using a vessel from Guam, or dumping in any ocean waters under U.S. jurisdiction, "Hornsleth" might want to rethink his plans.

Title I of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) prohibits all ocean dumping, except that allowed by permits, in any ocean waters under U.S. jurisdiction, by any U.S. vessel, or by any vessel sailing from a U.S. port. The act bans any dumping of radiological, chemical, and biological warfare agents and any high-level radioactive waste, and medical wastes (the blood and tissue samples inside the sculpture qualify as medical wastes).

The MPRSA authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess civil penalties of not more than $50,000 for each violation of a permit or permit requirement. Criminal penalties (including seizure and forfeiture of vessels) for knowing violations of the act also are authorized. In addition, the act authorizes penalties for ocean dumping of medical wastes (civil penalties up to $125,000 for each violation and criminal penalties up to $250,000, five years in prison, or both).

Like many other federal environmental laws, the MPRSA allows individuals to bring a citizen suit in U.S. District Court against any person, including the United States, for violation of a permit or other prohibition, limitation, or criterion issued under Title I of the act.

Furthermore, the U.S. Coast Guard is directed to conduct surveillance and other appropriate enforcement activities to prevent unlawful transporation of material for dumping, or unlawful dumping.

So basically, if "Horsleth" tries to dump anywhere in the ocean, he'll have the Coast Guard and the EPA after him and he may be liable for civil and criminal penalties. He may also face some jail time, as would anyone who assists him. Furthermore, anyone can bring a case against him, including me.

ocean litter bugAnd if "Horsleth" tries to dump within the borders of the monument, on top of the Coast Guard and the EPA, he'll have USFWS and NOAA breathing down his neck. Isn't that exciting?

I think it is time for "Horsleth" to pull the plug on this ill-conceived plan; He should just go ahead and return everyone's money.

And one final note, people out there have to be morons to fall for this stupid idea. The temperature at Challenger Deep is a mere 2.5° C; it isn't even freezing. The freezer in my kitchen would do a better job of preserving people's DNA than this stupid sculpture.

If you would like to share your opinion with "Hornsleth" you can call him at +44 - (0)781 6839 451 or email him at


a said...

Really though, what exactly is your problem? The guy had a brilliant idea and may make some money out of it.. I don't think it's more of a scam than naming a star after you. People are vain and there are always some that will pay money just to satisfy this vanity.. I can't understand why you are so upset about that!

The Saipan Blogger said...

Because they are going to dump it near my home.