Little known environmental catastrophe has spread along the coast of Southern California. By the middle of the twentieth century, the coast somewhere between Long Beach and Catalina Island had become a deep dumping ground.
Although the practice discontinued decades ago, the seabed still enclosed by thousands of barrel-free barrels, many of which now contain the banned pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Once a widely used pesticide, DDT became notorious for its environmental impact and its impact on animal and human health. Its effects on health still largely not deeply understood, although DDT has linked too many reproductive problems and thought to be carcinogenic in humans. The United States banned the use of DDT in 1972 after a number of these issues became public.
However, that was certainly not the end of the story. DDT is notorious because it has been in the food chain and ecosystem for decades – most people still have high levels of DDT in their bodies. California was a global center of these naughty things. In the post-war period, Montrose Chemical Corporation of California became the world’s largest supplier of DDT from their plant in Los Angeles. They did not discharge large amounts of DDT into the ocean through local sewers. They dumped approximately 2,000 to 3,000 barrels of DDT-per-month waste into the sea between 1947 and 1961, according to a report released by a California regional in the 1980s. Board of Control.
They estimated that a total of 500,000 barrels of DDT were sitting on the sea floor off the coast of Los Angeles. Surprisingly, of course, the issue often forgotten until the dumping site brought back to public attention David Valentine and a team of marine scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology in 2019, they used submarine submarines and chemical samples to make submarines and to understand the effects of dumping on submarine sites.
Through their survey, they saw about 60 waste barrels located at a depth of about 900 meters (2,950 feet). Overall, they concluded: “The disposal process was inherently opaque,” and “there is conclusive evidence that the waste was disposed of on purpose.” It is not yet clear if this is affecting marine life in Southern California and beyond, but some worrying indications are beginning to emerge. In December 2020, researchers at the Marine Mammal Center Sausalito published a study of about 400 wild California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and found that less than 25 percent had cancer.
Most sea lions infected with herpes, possibly leading to a higher cancer rate, but the researchers found a surprisingly high environmental pollutant DDT and PCBO in their blues. The study even concluded that their findings could have an impact on human health. California sea lions are an example of marine life experiencing the effects of communal dumping, but it seems unlikely to end.