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U.S. EPA INVESTIGATES PALOS VERDES SHELF CONTAMINATION

Release Date: 7/10/1996
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

(San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced it will begin an investigation of DDT and PCB-contaminated sediments on the ocean floor off the Palos Verdes Peninsula of Los Angeles.  The Agency Superfund investigation will also include cleanup options.  

     "U.S. EPA will be looking at several options including the reuse of clean dredge material from various ports in the area to cap the site," said John Wise, U.S. EPA's deputy regional administrator.  "It is important that we determine the most effective way to protect the public health and the ecosystem of the Santa Monica and San Pedro Bays."

     The DDT and PCB-contaminated sediment covers 27 square miles of coastal waters off Los Angeles.  The highest levels of contamination are found in an approximately three square mile area.

     The now banned pesticide DDT was manufactured by the Montrose Chemical Corp., Torrance, Calif., from 1947 to 1982.  Montrose discharged wastewater from DDT production to the Los Angeles sewer system that empties into the Pacific Ocean.  PCBs, a toxic industrial chemical used by several plant sites in the Los Angeles area, also were discharged into the sewer system.

      Approximately 100 metric tons of DDT contaminate the ocean floor, endangering marine life and birds.  Although concentrations of DDT have dropped significantly since the discharge was eliminated in the early 1970s, fish found in the vicinity of Palos Verdes are still highly contaminated, indicating a continuing release of DDT and PCBs to the food chain.

     The environmental evaluation is being conducted under Superfund, the U.S. EPA program that responds to hazardous waste problems.  U.S. EPA expects to reach a decision regarding cleanup options within the next year.

     U.S. EPA's action follows an investigation of conditions on the Palos Verdes shelf released in 1994 by the federal and state natural resource trustees.  Trustee agencies include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of Interior, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California State Lands Commission, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
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