Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) this week called on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Commerce Department, which oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to prioritize cleaning up DDT and other toxic chemicals that were dumped off the coast of California from 1947-1961.

  • The letter to the EPA is available here.
  • The letter to the Commerce Department is available here.

“I write regarding the issue of DDT contamination off the coast of California,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “I ask that you prioritize urgent and meaningful action to remediate this serious threat to human and environmental health.”

Senator Feinstein continued: “Now, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have discovered what they estimate to be hundreds of thousands of industrial waste barrels in varying states of decay on the ocean floor near Catalina Island, about 22 miles off the California coast. The barrels contain industrial waste laced with toxic chemicals, including DDT and PCBs, and some appear to be leaking.

“Alarmingly, some areas off Catalina Island have recorded concentrations of DDT at rates 40 times higher than the highest level of contamination at Palos Verdes. It is scientifically established that DDT, PCB and other industrial waste are serious threats to wildlife and human health. DDT pollution has been linked to increased cancer rates among California sea lions and is a known cancer risk to humans.”

This week, at the request of Senator Feinstein, UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA, with assistance from the Department of Defense, UC Santa Barbara and other partners, launched a mission to map 50,000 acres of the ocean floor near Catalina Island.

The mission will map the precise location, condition and number of barrels containing DDT waste dumped by the Montrose Corporation. This is the first step toward understanding the scope and scale of the problem in order to develop solutions to resolve it.