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Toxic industrial waste - toxic waste time bomb is ticking off California's coast

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At a depth of around 1000 meters, spread over 145 square kilometers, at least 25,000 barrels of poison are stored.

A well-known environmental sin: Ten years ago, barrels containing the poison DDT were discovered off the coast of California by a team from the University of Santa Barbara. Only now has the extent and the exact location of the landfill been researched by marine biologists using underwater drones with sonar technology. It is an estimated 25,000 barrels with a content of 350 to 700 tons of DDT. According to Arndt Peltner, local journalist, other estimates even assume 100,000 barrels.

The origin of the poison barrels: The largest DDT producer in the USA, Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, produced this chemical in the small town of Torrence, south of Los Angeles Airport, from 1947 to 1982. "This company has sunk barrels in the sea for decades," says Peltner. "There was a great public outcry when it became known that the company was simply pumping the chemical directly into the sea through a system of canals." The dumping of the barrels - the disposal of waste in the sea - on the other hand, was not so well known and was never the big issue.

What is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT for short?

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DDT is an insecticide that has been used as a contact and food poison since the early 1940s. For decades it was the most widely used insecticide in the world because of its effectiveness against insects, its low toxicity to mammals and the simple manufacturing process. However, due to its chemical stability and good fat solubility, it accumulated in human and animal tissues at the end of the food chain.

Over time, DDT and some of its breakdown products have been found to exhibit hormone-like effects. DDT was suspected of causing cancer in humans. For these reasons, the use of DDT was banned by most western industrialized countries in the 1970s.

In countries that ratified the Stockholm Convention from 2004, DDT is only permitted for the control of disease-transmitting insects, in particular the malaria mosquito.

Why DDT was produced: During the Second World War it was noticed that DDT was a good way to fight malaria and typhoid. "Back then, the US Army extolled it as a miracle cure," the journalist continued. It was later used extensively as an insecticide in many countries. “As early as the 1960s, however, it was known that it had a major impact on nature. The number of songbirds has decreased massively - and this is related to DDT. "

The ecological damage: Many sea lions and dolphins with inexplicable cancer have been found off the coast of California, says Peltner. Therefore it was known that there had to be something in the water. How exactly the connections are still has to be researched.

Disposal of the poison: You don't even know how many barrels are still intact and how many are already leaking. If the barrels can be recovered at all, the finances will have to be found, says Peltner. Scientists and authorities are now trying to raise funds for a rescue from a depth of 1000 meters. "It is assumed that the Biden administration will be asked very quickly to do something to remedy something."

SRF 4 News, April 30, 2021; 6:40 pm; srf / lin / agencies; eglc

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  • Comment from Alois Keller (eyko)
    From the 1950s onwards, states including the USA, Russia, Japan and several European countries have legally dumped barrels of radioactive waste from their nuclear power plants into the sea. World wars and other conflicts. Several countries around the world have sunk both chemical and conventional weapons in the sea. We will continue to be concerned with military contamination in the future. Oil pollution: The risk of drilling accidents, on the other hand, increases the deeper you go.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Claudio Kohler (KCl - salt in the soup)
      Guess who comes from the second most barrels ;-). Yes, we Swiss are already leaving our traces around the world ...
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers
  • Comment from Christopher Adams (Christopher Adams)
    However, the insecticidal effect was not discovered until 1939 by the Swiss Paul Hermann Müller, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this in 1948. Müller worked in a research group at J. R. Geigy AG. Geigy launched DDT in 1942 under the trade name Gesarol
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Beppie Hermann (A right green)
    The little man is instructed to carefully separate his garbage. Punished and fined are those who dump their rubbish into nature or drop their rubbish. With great sinners one has apparently always closed both eyes! Even our ancestors buried all their rubbish or dumped it in bodies of water, whether toxic or not. And even today, all over the world, seas, lakes and rivers are misused as landfills Streams over.
    Agree agree to the comment

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