DDT in the Ocean

Not good news, story from the LA Times.


“When the research vessel Sally Ride set sail for Santa Catalina Island to map an underwater graveyard of DDT waste barrels, its crew had high hopes of documenting for the first timejust how many corroded containers littered the seafloor off the coast ofLos Angeles.

“But as the scientists on deck began interpreting sonar images gathered by two deep-sea robots, they were quickly overwhelmed. It was like trying to count stars in the Milky Way.

“The dumpsite, it turned out, was much, much bigger than expected. After spending two weeks surveying a swath of seafloor larger than the city of San Francisco, the scientists could find no end to the dumping ground. They could’ve kept going in any direction, they said, and uncovered even more.

“I was pretty shocked that it just kept extending as far as it did,” said Eric Terrill of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the mission of 31 scientists and crew members. “We couldn’t keep up with the flow of data coming in.”

“Terrill shared these findings Monday in a U.S. congressional briefing led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has been pushing for action since The Times reported last fall that the nation’s largest DDT manufacturer once dumped its waste into the deep ocean. As many as half a million barrels could still be underwater today, according to old records and a recent UC Santa Barbara study that provided the first photos of this pollution bubbling 3,000 feet under the sea….

“For Terrill, trying to count the barrels was likethe episode of “I Love Lucy” in which Lucy gets a job in a chocolate factory and struggles to keep up with a speeding conveyor belt. But as his team pored over gigabytes and gigabytes ofsonar data, they were finally able to identify at least 27,000 barrel-sized anomalies — and more than 100,000 total debris objects on the seafloor — with the help of some computer analysis.

“The actual number of barrels could be even higher, he noted, because barrels that were half-buried by sediment, for example, may have been overlooked by the computer.”

Retrieved April 27, 2021 from DDT waste barrels off L.A. coast shock California scientists – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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