Environment & Science

EPA proposes Palos Verdes peninsula pollution cleanup

Ocean near Palos Verdes
Ocean near Palos Verdes

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There will be a public hearing this week over federal plans to clean up an enormous deposit of the pesticide DDT off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. KPCC’s Molly Peterson has a preview.

From the late '40s until 1971, more than a hundred tons of DDT flowed out of Montrose Chemical near Torrance – and into the Pacific Ocean off Palos Verdes. A dozen years ago, the federal Environmental Protection Agency declared almost 17 square miles of ocean a Superfund site. Now the EPA plans to clean it up.

Federal officials propose to cap the mess by dumping silt and sand over the chemicals that harm marine life. A pilot project sort of worked. EPA found tainted sediment on top of the silt – and it doesn’t know why. Capping will cost at least $36 million.

Dredging, a more involved option, would cost $2 billion, and might spread contamination. EPA will talk about the capping plan at three meetings this week: San Pedro on Tuesday, Wilmington on Wednesday, and Rolling Hills Estates on Thursday. If the capping plan gets a go-ahead, it’ll start within two years.