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25K Barrels Possibly Containing DDT Found Off California Coast

Posted on 5/7/2021 by Lauren Scott

Last month, marine scientists identified as many as 25,000 barrels believed to contain dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT, in the Pacific Ocean. The hazardous waste barrels were discovered on the ocean floor between Catalina Island and the Los Angeles coast.

Researchers suspected the area was used as a major industrial dumping site from the 1930s until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) was adopted.

Since then, marine animals in the area have been known to test positive for high levels of DDT, and the chemical has been linked to cancer among the local sea lion population.

Although further testing is needed to confirm the contents of the barrels, experts believe between 320 and 640 tons of DDT may be present. It is unclear if any of the potentially hazardous waste leaked out of its containers and into the ocean.
 

MPRSA Explained

In the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, Congress empowered the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "regulate the dumping of all types of materials into ocean waters and to prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean waters of any material which would adversely affect" either human health or the marine environment.

EPA has codified ocean dumping regulations in 40 CFR 220–229. These rules focus primarily on establishing and maintaining a permitting program. Under this program, EPA may issue permits for:
  • Dumping into ocean waters;
  • Transporting any material from the US (or on board any vessel or aircraft of the US from a location outside the country) for the purpose of dumping the material into ocean waters; or
  • Dumping into the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of the US.
Learn more about how EPA decides to issue ocean dumping permits here.
 

What’s Ahead for EPA in 2021?

Michael Regan, the former secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, was confirmed as US EPA’s new Administrator on March 10, 2021. In an April 9 press release, Administrator Regan remarked on President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary request of $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest budget ever for the Agency. EPA is planning to focus on preventing and cleaning up environmental damage and to build up its critical staff capacity to carry out is core duties and functions.
 

June 2021: Live, Expert-led RCRA Training 

At Lion.com, find live RCRA training for new and experienced personnel to get everyone up to speed on the regulations they must know to safely manage hazardous waste and help avoid accidents, injuries, and costly civil penalties.

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Webinar
June 2–3
Develop the in-depth expertise you need to identify regulated wastes and meet your responsibilities for proper storage, labeling, and safe disposal at this two-day RCRA webinar. 

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Refresher Webinar
June 8 and June 15
Help satisfy EPA's annual RCRA training mandate with this streamlined, one-day course for experienced hazardous waste professionals. 
 

Tags: California, Clean Water Act, environmental, EPA, RCRA

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