Toxic chemicals detected off the Palos Verdes Peninsula are decreasing rapidly. Tests show that banned pesticide DDT and industrial wastes called PCB's have dropped about 90 percent in five years.
Industrial dumping had turned that patch of sea floor into a toxic cesspool, but now, samples taken from the sediment indicate that more than 100 tons of the toxins have simply vanished.
Scientists are baffled by the results. The toxic compounds normally break down very slowly, and have had negative results on sea life, making fish caught in the area unsafe to eat and leaving Catalina Island bald eagles unable to reproduce.
In light of the new findings, the EPA has suspended cleanup efforts for now, and ordered new tests of the 17 square mile area over the next year.
The agency reviewed its testing methods and lab work and determined that the results were legitimate. They still are not convinced that the tests do not merely show a statistical anomaly.
After the retests are available, most likely late next year, the EPA will reassess the data and decide if they will continue with the offshore cleanup.
For decades between the late 194o's to the early 1970's, the area was used as a dumping ground by Montrose Chemical Corp.
Millions of pounds of DDT and wastewater contaminated with PCB's emptied into the ocean over the years.
A legal battle forced Montrose to help pay for the cleanup and habitat restoration for wildlife in the area.