As a result of his recent efforts on behalf of Rep. Jane Harmon (D-Venice) involving a reclamation project in Torrance, Calif., chemical engineering Professor Yoram Cohen believes that legislation should be enacted requiring independent scientific reviews of environmental investigations and restorations by federal agencies. The goal is to provide affected communities and other stakeholders with independent assessment and information.
"People are frightened," Cohen said. "They've just found out that the land they live on is contaminated. Now there are people coming in and digging up their neighborhood. There is a lack of communication and flow of information among the various agencies and those directly engaged in remediation activities."
In this case, the community is approximately five square blocks in the Del Amo area of Los Angeles where DDT had been found in "concentrations that were alarming," Cohen said. The contamination was the result of production of the pesticide DDT in the area for decades.
As the remediation project got under way, however, "They uncovered at one point essentially what amounted to pure DDT," Cohen said. That is when a frightened community became even more alarmed and Harmon turned to the experts at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Stanford University.
The study, done by Cohen in collaboration with Stanford Professor Perry L. McCarty, also found that although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did an adequate job of cleaning up the area, more could be done. It also suggests ongoing monitoring to ensure that if new construction projects are undertaken, the community will be protected from exposure to DDT. The pesticide may still be present in areas
Contact: David Brown
University of California - Los Angeles