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In the 1940s, scientists developed the insecticide, DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) to stave off insects at farms as well as to stop the spread of diseases carried by certain insects. It became extremely spread but in 1972 the US banned DDT due to its negative health and environmental effects. It has been linked to various cancers, infertility, miscarriages, liver damage, and other serious health issues. It also caused a severe decline in the bald eagle population because DDT thinned their shells and made them brittle. Now, countries are only allowed to use it in small amounts to combat malaria.

Source: SmartAlec/Youtube

Even though DDT was banned many years ago, its effects are long-lasting and its breakdown product, DDE still remains in our environment. Because DDT doesn’t easily breakdown and stores easily in fat, it causes “what scientists today call ‘biomagnification’: the toxin accumulating in the tissues of animals in greater and greater concentrations as it moves up the food chain.”

A few years ago, while diving off the Catalina coast to study methane seeps, David Valentine found barrels of DDT that had been dumped into the ocean and were spilling the toxic chemicals in the ocean. According to historical records, the largest DDT manufacturer was in Los Angeles and when the DDT ban took place, they started dumping barrels of it into the ocean. When the barrels didn’t sink, they would even puncture them, thereby releasing DDT directly into the water.

There has been litigation about this toxic dumping for decades and finally, in 2020, a new settlement was reached assuring us they would clean it up. But it’s not the first time this has happened, after which no one actually cleaned it up. In fact, there have been decades of litigation and settlements around this and the EPA genuinely seems to think that leaving the toxic sludge there is a solution.

This week, new attention has been brought to the site and its harmful effects on California sea lions. Researchers describe the situation as “overwhelming” and are hoping that the government will finally take steps to clean up this catastrophe.

Sign this petition to demand the EPA do their job and clean up the DDT in our oceans immediately!

To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:

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