Ocean scientists will soon be taking the help of robot submarines to detect thousands of barrels of toxic chemicals submerged in the Pacific Ocean, near Los Angeles. Barrels and barrels of harmful chemicals including DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) are believed to have been dumped inside the ocean since past many decades.
Given the large area that needs to be scanned, scientists have put to use two of what they have nicknamed ‘underwater Roombas,’ or Remote Environmental Monitoring Units(REMUS) that can operate under water from a depth between 80 feet to at least 20,000 feet.
The REMUS needs 12 hours to recharge so scientists will take turns to use the machines at a time. While one of the machine is scanning the seabed, the other one recharges and can be accessed for its findings.
DDT, an insecticide was developed during World War 2 to help curb the spread of typhus and malaria but after the war, it went on to be used on a large scale for agricultural and household purposes to kill pests. But soon during the 1960s, environmentalists found the DDt to be a threatening factor for animals and humans too. So, in 1972, the insecticide was banned in the US, classifying it as a probable human carcinogen.
Back in October 2020, thousands of barrels of DDT were found dumped in the waters off Santa Catalina Island, a report in the Los Angeles Times said, which the report added were dumped by Montrose Chemical Corp, leading manufacturer of DDT, was based in Los Angeles.
The report said that the company used to ship out barrel of DDT and other chemicals to dump them in the water.
To identify the extent of the problem, the robots will scan almost 50,000 acres of the San Pedro Basin seafloor. The machines are equipped with SONAR tech that will help to collect data from the ocean floor.
The insecticide has been associated with cancer growth in sea mammals such as sea lions, shorter lifespans in shrimps and other marine animals.