The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

DDT Contamination on Coast of L.A.

May 10, 2021

University of California and federal government scientists recently found that a 12-mile swath of seafloor, larger than the city of San Francisco, was covered with as many as half a million barrels of a very harmful chemical, DDT. These industrial barrels, bubbling 3,000 feet deep in the ocean, are scattered off the coast of Los Angeles.

In humans, exposure to DDT is linked to breast cancer, immune system deficiencies, obesity, birth defects, reduced fertility and testicular cancer. It also causes deadly diseases in fish, birds, and sea mammals, leading to widespread die-offs.

DDT was produced as a pesticide in Los Angeles by a company called Montrose Chemical Company, starting in 1947. Immediately after Montrose opened its plant, it started to dump DDT-contaminated manufacturing waste through sewers and in barrels.

The U.S. government banned the use of DDT in the U.S. in 1972, because of the harm to the environment that it caused. But the U.S. government allowed Montrose and other U.S. chemical companies to continue to produce DDT for sale to foreign markets for another ten years, allowing capitalist profits to trump health and safety of people and the environment.

At the same time, the U.S. government allowed Montrose to continue to dump the industrial waste in the ocean until the plant closed in 1982. The sale of DDT was finally banned worldwide in 2004.

Today, the ocean floor off the coast of Los Angeles is the largest known deposit of DDT in the world. As one scientist who found these deposits stated, “These chemicals are still out there, and we haven’t figured out what to do. They are an issue, and we still don’t have a plan.”

What plan? The companies won’t pay for it. The U.S. government won’t make them. They won’t clean it up for the same reason they dumped it there in the first place. Profit, before life.