A few months ago, we told you about Roomba-like robots that were made to survey an underwater waste site in order to come up with a plan to clean it up. They did that and scientists say that the size of the waste site is far bigger than they expected.
“I was pretty shocked that it just kept extending as far as it did,” said Eric Terrill of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the mission of 31 scientists and crew members. “We couldn’t keep up with the flow of data coming in.”
The waste site contains barrels of toxic waste that were taken out to sea and dumped by a DDT manufacturer. This was once accepted practice! Now that scientists have had a good look, they estimate that the dumpsite is larger than the entire city of San Francisco.
DDT is a highly toxic chemical. The U.S. banned it in 1972 but it is so stable that it continues to poison its surroundings years later. Some studies have linked it to illness in dolphins and sea lions.
So how are they going to go in there to get these barrels of poison out of there? They don’t know yet. So far this mapping project is all we’ve got.