Burial At Sea | Region 10 | US EPA

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Burial At Sea

Contact Us

In Alaska: Chris Meade (meade.chris@epa.gov),
907-586-7622

In Oregon & Washington: Bridgette Lohrman (lohrman.bridgette@epa.gov),
503-326-4006

Federal Laws & Regulations
Human remains transported from vessels or aircraft may be buried in ocean waters under certain conditions listed below. Please note the federal general permit for burial at sea does not apply to burials in inland waters.

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Summary - "Burial at sea" generally means the placement of human remains, and readily decomposable flowers and wreaths, in or on ocean waters seaward of the "three nautical mile line" as shown on official nautical charts published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The following activities are not allowed under the federal general permit for burial at sea:

  • Placement of human remains in any waters landward of the three nautical mile line (i.e. closer than 3 miles to land)
  • Placement of nonhuman remains (such as pet remains)
  • Placement of materials which are not readily decomposable in the marine environment (such as plastic or metal flowers and wreaths, urns, tombs, tombstones, gravestones, monuments, mausoleums, artificial reefs, etc.)
A copy of the general permit for burial at sea (40 CFR 229.1) (PDF) (1 pg, 146K) is required to be placed in the vessel or aircraft which will be used for the transportation and burial.

Preparation for burial - Human remains must be prepared for burial at sea in accordance with accepted practices and requirements of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, or civil authority responsible for making such arrangements. For example, state and local health departments may require burial, transport or cremation permits before you are allowed to move human remains to a port, vessel or aircraft for burial at sea.

Burial at sea of non-cremated remains - Burial of human remains that are not cremated must take place at least 3 nautical miles from land (i.e., seaward of the "three nautical mile line"), and in water at least 600 feet deep. Measures must be taken to ensure the remains sink to the bottom rapidly and permanently.

Burial at sea of cremated remains - Burial of cremated human remains must take place at least 3 nautical miles from land. Depth of water limitations do not apply to burials of cremated remains (provided they take place at least 3 nautical miles from land).

Decomposable flowers and wreaths - Flowers and wreaths consisting of materials that are readily decomposable in the marine environment may be placed at the authorized burial site.

Notification to EPA within 30 days
All burials at sea must be reported to EPA in writing within 30 days after the burial. You may use the following form to submit your information, or email the required information to Chris Meade (meade.chris@epa.gov).
Name of deceased:
Date of burial:
Type of human remains (cremated or non-cremated):
Burial site Latitude (degrees and decimal minutes, North American Datum 1983):
Burial site Longitude (degrees and decimal minutes, North American Datum 1983):
Distance from land (minimum nautical 3 miles):
Depth of water (for non-cremated remains only):
Funeral Director or person responsible for burial (name/email/phone):


Local Navigation


URL: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/ECOCOMM.NSF/Oceans/burial-at-sea

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