Southern California surfers are not typically known for their heartiness, but all that radically changed days ago when researchers from Scripps Institute of Oceanography at U.C. San Diego discovered a toxic waste dump over two-times the size of Manhattan off the coast of Los Angeles.
The territory covered was “staggering” according to Eric Terrill, the chief scientist of the expedition. “It really was a surprise to everybody who’s worked with the data and who sailed at sea.”
It has long been known that the basin between L.A. and Catalina Island had been a dumping ground for dangerous chemicals such as DDT for decades, The Los Angeles Times had records of the Montrose Chemical Corp. dumping DDT-laced sludge from 1947 to 1961, and a few barrels had been spotted on the ocean floor ten years ago but the over 27,000 barrels just discovered was completely shocking.
Many appear to be damaged and leaking.
Scripps chemical oceanographer and professor of geosciences Lihini Aluwihare, who co-authored a 2015 study that found high amounts of DDT and other man-made chemicals in the blubber of bottlenose dolphins that died of natural causes.
“These results also raise questions about the continued exposure and potential impacts on marine mammal health, especially in light of how DDT has been shown to have multi-generational impacts in humans,” she said.
Another study has just shown that over 25% of California’s sea lions have cancer, which is typically extremely rare in the wild.
Will these ugly findings deter Southern California surfers?
I think not.
Take that Atlantic Northeast.