Scientists recently discovered the extent of toxic DDT contamination occurring in the deep ocean off Los Angeles from historic dumping is far greater than previously thought, with new estimates of hundreds of thousands of barrels and documentation that many are degraded and leaking.
In response to the newest findings, Oceana released the following statement from chief policy officer Jacqueline Savitz:
“Our state and federal governments must take swift and bold action to address the massive DDT dumpsite leaking toxic waste into the deep ocean off Los Angeles. The crisis appears to be orders of magnitude worse than previously believed with scientists estimating that there are hundreds of thousands of barrels scattered over an area larger than San Francisco and more than half a mile deep. Scientists have found DDT, a known human carcinogen, accumulating in Southern California dolphins, and causing cancer in California sea lions.
While we knew there was historic contamination in the area, it was not known that companies had used these waters so close to Los Angeles as an ocean dumping ground to dispose of massive amounts of highly persistent toxic chemicals. Now, we are left with horrifying contamination in some of the most diverse ocean waters off the U.S. West Coast. There are no easy solutions to clean up these barrels resting at the depths of the seafloor and the repercussions will haunt future generations but it is essential that the government act immediately.
We thank U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein for taking the first steps to address this situation. The responsible parties must be held to account, as their irresponsible actions from decades ago will continue to harm ocean wildlife and potentially humans for many years to come. We must send a strong and clear message that dumping of hazardous waste in the ocean is unacceptable and criminal. We urge the Biden Administration in coordination with the state of California to engage its experts to fully survey the area and assess the extent and magnitude of the situation. A comprehensive action plan for mitigation and cleanup must be developed, funded, and implemented. This must be made a priority to ensure that our Southern California waters can be free of these contaminants, to protect marine life and public health.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit USA.Oceana.org to learn more.