25,000 barrels containing DDT found at bottom of Pacific

Cheryl Santa Maria
·2 min read
25,000 barrels containing DDT found at bottom of Pacific
25,000 barrels containing DDT found at bottom of Pacific
25,000 barrels containing DDT found at bottom of Pacific

Marine scientists believe they've found up to 25,000 barrels dumped off the Southern California coast containing DDT, a toxic substance that was banned in Canada and the U.S. in 1972 due to its harmful effects on wildlife, humans, and the environment.

"Barrel-like images" were captured by researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, discovered in a region previously found to have high levels of the toxic substance in the ecosystem, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

The seafloor survey covered 14,568 hectares in the San Pedro Basin between March 10 and 24 in response to an October Los Angeles Times report about the history of DDT dumping in the area.

KNOWN DUMPSITE
KNOWN DUMPSITE

The seafloor survey covered 14,568 hectares in the San Pedro Basin. Courtesy: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

According to that report, historical shipping logs show thousands of barrels of "acid sludge laced with this synthetic chemical" were dumped into the ocean, a practice that lasted until the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 was put into place.

Between 350 and 700 tons of DDT are thought to have been dumped in the area, which sits 20 km from Los Angeles and 12 km from Catalina Island.

The long-term impact their presence may have on marine life is not fully understood, but exposure to DDT has been linked to cancer in sea lions.

DDT Barrel
DDT Barrel

A barrel of DDT found off the coast of Santa Catalina Island in California. Courtesy: David Valentine, UC Santa Barbara / RV Jason.

What happens next with the barrels depends on whether or not they leaked.

If they haven't, they could be removed for safe disposal, AP reports. If they have, scientists may take environmental samples to assess the damage.

The researchers say they hope their findings will inspire clean-up and conservation efforts in the area.