Employing a large research vessel called the Sally Ride, 31 scientists and crew members, and two high-tech autonomous robots they call Roombas, the team used sophisticated sonar to map the ocean bottom and assess how many barrels there are.
Despite the fact that the toxic barrels were dumped in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, their existence just became common knowledge this past fall when the Los Angeles Times published a feature on Valentine’s work. But his discovery dates all the way back to 2011 when he first decided to see if the rumors of the barrels were true. In 2013 he made another short trip to the site. But his research was not published until March of 2019.
In all, his time-limited work yielded visuals of 60 barrels. Besides bringing back video of the leaking barrels, his team was also able to collect samples from the ocean floor. One of them registered a contamination 40 times greater than the highest contamination at the Superfund site, indicating that the toxins down deep are still very concentrated.
Armed with this compelling evidence, Valentine said that he “beat the drum” for years, speaking to various government agencies, trying to get some interest, but to no avail. However, when the LA Times story came out, interest finally followed as public outcry grew.
But before his discovery in 2011, Valentine placed part of the blame for the lack of knowledge about the barrels on the lack of technology to find it. It’s only in the past couple of decades that the technology became available to make this deep water research feasible.
Coincidentally, on the very day CBS News went to visit Valentine in Southern California, Scripps Institution of Oceanography began a two-week mission to survey almost 50,000 feet of the deep ocean seafloor.
How a shocking environmental disaster was uncovered after 70 years
Just 10 miles off the coast of Los Angeles lurks an environmental disaster over 70 years in the making, which few have ever heard about. That is, until now, thanks to the research of a University of California marine scientist named David Valentine.
‘Overwhelming’: Scientists Confirm Massive DDT Dumping Ground On Ocean Floor Between Long Beach, Catalina Island
By CBSLA Staff, April 12, 2021 at 5:31 amFiled Under:Catalina Island, KCAL 9, Long Beach
here’s a chart! take a look at the terrain there!!
Aiding in their search are two remote-operated robots that use sonar to scan the seafloor, sort of like “underwater Roombas,” as project lead Eric Terrill of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography tells the LA Times’ Xia. Instead of scanning a carpet for debris, these robots are seeking out thousands of barrels of DDT to help researchers create a detailed map of where each item is.
“We want to provide a common base map of what’s on the seabed at a high enough resolution,” Terrill tells the LA Times.
The robots are part of a project to advance the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s underwater data-gathering programs and will be tested while conducting the surveys. Each one of these high-tech robots can run for 12 to 16 hours on a single charge. One robot will continue to scan the ocean floor while the other one recharges and unloads collected data. The team plans to make data openly available for interpretation and share it all immediately on a NOAA-run data repository.
But the robots’ reconnaissance mission is only the very beginning of the dumpsite’s clean-up process.
h/t Digital mix guy