Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement after participating in a briefing with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and scientists from UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State University. The briefing reviewed findings from a seafloor mapping expedition led by Scripps and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration of a DDT dumping site 12 miles off the coast of California, near Santa Catalina Island.
“The expedition’s findings confirm fears that a large number of barrels containing DDT-laced industrial waste were dumped off the coast of California and are now impacting marine life and potentially public health.
“This expedition looked at just one of more than 10 total dump sites. Within the 36,000 acres examined, more than 25,000 barrels were identified, with tens of thousands of additional debris objects that could be more barrels. This is a massive and potentially very dangerous problem.
“Simply put, this is one of the biggest environmental threats on the West Coast. It’s also one of the most challenging because these barrels are 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface and there aren’t many records of who did the dumping, where exactly it occurred or how many barrels were dumped.
“The information gathered by the scientists on the research vessel Sally Ride is critical to finding a solution to this serious problem. But it’s just a first step, and I will be following up to ensure that additional research is conducted to determine the best way to address the problem.
“I’m grateful to Scripps, NOAA and their partners for conducting this expedition and then briefing the California delegation today about the seriousness of this issue. It’s going to take a whole-of-government approach to solve a problem of this scale.”
Information about the mapping expedition:
- Led by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NOAA and their partners, the expedition mapped more than 36,000 acres of the seafloor between Santa Catalina Island and the Los Angeles coast in a region previously found to contain high levels of the toxic chemical DDT in sediment and the ecosystem. The target area was selected based on historical records of companies conducting deep-water ocean dumping.
- The purpose of the expedition was to determine exactly how many barrels containing DDT were dumped on the seafloor and their precise locations in the target area.
- The survey on the R/V Sally Ride, one of the most technologically advanced vessels in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet, identified more than 25,000 barrels and more than 100,000 total debris objects on the seafloor in the target area.
- The expedition included a team of 31 scientists, engineers, and crew conducting 24-hour operations from March 10-24 to deploy two autonomous underwater vehicles used for the expedition from R/V Sally Ride. The search entailed work at depths of up to 3,000 feet below the surface.