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ALERT: SOUTH BAY FISH ARE CONTAMINATED WITH MERCURY & DDT

Posted last February 21, 2018, 5:15 pm in News report article

LOS ANGELES – January 11, 2018 

A DDT deposit (“DDT” is short for “Dichloro-Diphenyl Trichloro-ethane, which is an illegal, banned and very dangerous Pesticide)

on the ocean floor off of the Los Angeles County beaches has – apparently – rapidly shrunk, shocking experts and casting doubt – if we can believe that – on the need to mount a controversial $60-million Superfund clean-up, according to new data.  For decades, government officials and scientists have estimated that One Hundred Ten (110) TONS of the banned pesticide – the world's largest deposit of DDT – have been sprawled all over the ocean floor, where it was illegally discharged (dumped) by a now-defunct Los Angeles company that manufactured pesticides.  But now only about Fourteen (14) TONS remain, according to the latest testing by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”).

First of all, please note that a TON is actually TWO THOUSAND (2,000) POUNDS, and most automobiles weigh approximate 3,000 pounds … so a “ton” is a very large amount of a dangerous, poisonous chemical.  Second, it must be reported that many Public Health professionals seriously doubt that the DDT has just miraculously “disappeared,” since it is NOT water-soluble.  For more information on this mysterious disappearance, see below.

If you have fished from the Hermosa Beach Pier, or from any pier along the South Bay, and have eaten the fish that you caught, you may want to contact an experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer, because you have eaten fish that is dangerously contaminated by organic Mercury compounds, and the banned pesticide DDT.

The contamination originated in a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site – the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site – and the dangerous chemicals now coat all of the sand in the South Bay seabed.  Warning signs were posted, but several Personal Injury Attorneys are disputing whether the government’s warnings were sufficient to avoid legal liability for the serious illnesses caused by the poisons in these fish.  Most important of all, children and pregnant women should avoid any contact with these contaminants.

Most specifically at risk are immigrant communities from Asia and Central America, who have always eaten fish they caught locally.  Community outreach has not been sufficient to warn these communities.  So, we strongly recommend that anyone from the Filipino, Chinese, Southeast Asian, or Central American immigrant communities, who may have eaten these fish, contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles, as soon as possible.

More than 30 new signs have been posted at 24 shore fishing spots throughout Los Angeles County to warn anglers about five types of contaminated fish that should not be eaten.

The Fish Contamination Education Collaborative posted the signs at 24 popular fishing locations, including seven locations in Redondo Beach.

"We need these new signs to let Anglers know that there are five species of fish they would do well to avoid," said Carmen White, a remedial project manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who oversees the fish collaborative.

The signs warn people not to eat fish that have elevated levels of the pesticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane) and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) from the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site, which is the largest known DDT contamination site in the world.  The 17-square-mile area was contaminated by the Montrose Chemical Corp.'s DDT manufacturing plant in Torrance that discharged residue into the sewage system from 1947 until 1971.  The area has an estimated One Hundred (100) tons of DDT and about Ten (10) tons of PCB’s spread across the ocean floor and was declared a Superfund site in 1996.

DDT, which has been banned in the United States since the early 1970s, has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems in humans. Contamination is highest among bottom-feeding fish and the EPA for more than a decade has been trying to prevent consumption of contaminated fish near the Superfund site.  The new signs have large lettering in English and Spanish and warn people not to eat white croaker, barred sand bass, black croaker, topsmelt and barracuda with depictions of each fish.

Children and women of child-bearing age should not eat black croaker or barracuda caught in the coastal area from Ventura Harbor to San Mateo Point because of elevated levels of mercury. All anglers also should not to eat barred sand bass, topsmelt or white croaker from Santa Monica Pier to Seal Beach Pier because all three have elevated levels of PCB’s and DDT’s from the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site, health officials said in a statement.

The warnings came after the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sampled 22 species of fish from Ventura County to Orange County over a 10-year period. The state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment issued new safe eating guidelines based on the survey and the guidelines were simplified into the new signs that were posted by the fish collaborative.

As to the mysterious “disappearance” of tons and tons, of DDT, as discussed above, one theory is that it's a statistical fluke, that when researchers retrieved the new sediment samples from the ocean floor, they somehow missed all the hot spots of DDT.  Another theory is that something has accelerated the pace at which the pesticide has been dechlorinating – perhaps more microbes are suddenly gobbling more of it up and breaking it down into byproducts containing less chlorine.  Another possibility is that it has diffused into the water and spread throughout the ocean, although there is no evidence of that and no known explanation, or cause, for such a rapid change.

The legal consequences of this massive public health crisis have not yet been determined.  Efforts are underway to certify plaintiffs for a Class-Action lawsuit against the Federal, State and Local agencies that tried to address these issues, but have failed to deter immigrant communities from eating contaminated fish.

Not every attorney that you might contact will know of these issues, but many do.  As for me – a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney for Thirty (30) years – I have known for a long time that we were not supposed to eat fish caught off of South Bay Piers, but – honestly – I thought the problem was related to high levels of bacteria due to the flooding of the South Bay with both treated and un-treated Sewage.  In fact, it has little to do with the Sewage and related bacteria, but more to do with dangerous chemicals from a Superfund Site.  Of course, treated and un-treated Sewage is a major problem in the South Bay, making prolonged swimming off the Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches not such a great idea.  Further, if you’ve walked along those sandy beaches, and even more noticeably on Malibu beaches such as Zuma Beach, you will see tar stuck to your feet or flip-flops.  This tar is from Off-shore Oil drilling, but right now, that is not our most pressing health threat at the beach.