Author Posting. © American Chemical Society, 2019. This article is posted here by permission of American Chemical Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Kivenson, V., Lemkau, K. L., Pizarro, O., Yoerger, D. R., Kaiser, C., Nelson, R. K., Carmichael, C., Paul, B. G., Reddy, C. M., & Valentine, D. L. (2019). Ocean Dumping of Containerized DDT Waste Was a Sloppy Process. Environmental Science and Technology (2019), doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b05859.
Industrial-scale dumping of organic waste to the deep ocean was once common practice, leaving a legacy of chemical pollution for which a paucity of information exists. Using a nested approach with autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles, a dumpsite offshore California was surveyed and sampled. Discarded waste containers littered the site and structured the suboxic benthic environment. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was reportedly dumped in the area, and sediment analysis revealed substantial variability in concentrations of p,p-DDT and its analogs, with a peak concentration of 257 μg g–1, ∼40 times greater than the highest level of surface sediment contamination at the nearby DDT Superfund site. The occurrence of a conspicuous hydrocarbon mixture suggests that multiple petroleum distillates, potentially used in DDT manufacture, contributed to the waste stream. Application of a two end-member mixing model with DDTs and polychlorinated biphenyls enabled source differentiation between shelf discharge versus containerized waste. Ocean dumping was found to be the major source of DDT to more than 3000 km2 of the region’s deep seafloor. These results reveal that ocean dumping of containerized DDT waste was inherently sloppy, with the contents readily breaching containment and leading to regional scale contamination of the deep benthos.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for V.K. under Grant No. 1650114. Expeditions AT-18-11 and AT-26-06 were funded by the NSF (OCE-0961725 and OCE-1046144). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We thank the captain and crew of the RV Atlantis, the pilots and crew of the ROV Jason, the crew of the AUV Sentry, the scientific party of the AT-18-11 and AT-26-06 expeditions, Justin Tran for assistance with the preparation of multibeam data, M. Indira Venkatesan for a helpful discussion of the NOAA datasets, and Nathan Dodder for advice on the procedure for compound identification.
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