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DDT, Plastic, Oil, Other Hazardous Chemical Waste Pollution Risks Ocean Health

Scientists recently discovered the extent of toxic DDT contamination occurring in the deep ocean off Los Angeles, California from historic dumping is far greater than previously thought, with new estimates of hundreds of thousands of barrels and documentation that many are degraded and leaking. Hundreds of thousands of barrels are scattered over an area larger than San Francisco and more than half a mile deep. Scientists have found DDT, a known human carcinogen, accumulating in Southern California dolphins, and causing cancer in California sea lions.

Oceana urges the Biden Administration in coordination with the state of California to engage its experts to fully survey the area and assess the extent and magnitude of the situation. A comprehensive action plan for mitigation and cleanup must be developed, funded, and implemented. This must be made a priority to ensure that our Southern California waters can be free of these contaminants, to protect marine life and public health. The parties responsible for these unacceptable actions must be held to account, as their actions will continue to harm ocean wildlife and potentially humans for years to come.

The disposal of industrial waste in the ocean was a pervasive global practice in the 20th century. Dumping in waters off Southern California allegedly stopped in 1972 when the U.S. government enacted the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act. The U.S. government also discontinued the use of DDT in 1972, in response to its adverse environmental effects.

Oceana campaigns to protect the health and abundance of the world’s oceans by stopping current leading sources of ocean pollution, like plastics, oil, and mine tailings.

 How Oceana campaigns to protect our oceans from these threats


The oceans face a massive and growing threat from something you encounter everyday: plastics. An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic gets into the oceans every year—this is roughly equivalent to dumping two garbage trucks full of plastic into the oceans every minute.

Ocean plastic pollution threatens the viability of critical marine ecosystems, and plastics never go away. Instead, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which act as magnets for harmful pollutants. When eaten by fish, some of those chemical-laden microplastics can work their way up the food chain and into the fish we eat.

Oceana campaigns in nine countries and the European Union to achieve meaningful reductions in ocean plastic pollution by reducing the production and use of throwaway plastics.

Our teams have already helped win policies that reduce plastic pollution on the national level in Belize and Peru, as well as in U.S. states including New York, Virginia and Washington, and we continue to campaign for additional policies to address this growing threat. Oceana also calls on companies like Amazon and sectors like the non-alcoholic beverage industry to reduce their use of throwaway plastics and give their customers a plastic-free choice.

Learn more and how you can support Oceana’s campaign to end the plastic pollution crisis here.





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