TORRANCE, Calif. May 27, 2021— Following the recent discovery that up to 500,000 barrels of the banned pesticide DDT were dumped into the Pacific Ocean off Southern California, the Center for Biological Diversity sent Montrose Chemical Corp. and its successor parent company, Bayer Corp., a notice of intent to sue them today. Today’s notice letter calls for the companies to take responsibility for this toxic threat to public health and wildlife.
Starting in 1947 and continuing through at least 1961, Montrose employees transported barrels of DDT and acid sludge waste from the company’s Torrance, Calif. facility to barges, where they were dumped into the ocean near Santa Catalina Island. The massive ocean dumping site was discovered by scientists and publicized last year by award-winning articles in the Los Angeles Times.
“The nightmare legacy of DDT continues to rear its ugly head,” said attorney Charlie Tebbutt. “Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the world has known of DDT’s destructive impacts. It is time for the manufacturers and willing successors of this toxic stew to take responsibility for this travesty and clean up their mess. Our clients intend to make that happen.”
There is also a DDT dumping site off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is now a Superfund cleanup site. The subsequent discovery of even more DDT dumping farther offshore prompted today’s notice letter. The Center is represented by the Law Offices of Charles Tebbutt, PC.
“As a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara, I was shocked to learn about the legacy of DDT contamination in California’s coastal waters,” said Kristin Carden, an ocean scientist with the Center. “We need to better understand how this DDT is circulating through our coastal ecosystems so we can protect wildlife from further harm. The United States banned use of DDT in 1972 because it was so durable and harmful to brown pelicans and other species. Learning that it’s been leaking from dumped barrels into California’s coastal waters for decades after that is truly alarming.”
The notice letter states that Montrose and related entities are violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. DDT, which stands for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, is highly toxic and carcinogenic and linked to a wide variety of health problems in both humans and wildlife. It’s also very durable, and as decades of science has shown, DDT biomagnifies and bioaccumulates as it travels through food webs.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.