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DDT WarsRescuing Our National Bird, Preventing Cancer, and Creating EDF$
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Charles F. Wurster

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190219413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190219413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 June 2021

Escalating the DDT Issue with More Court Cases

Escalating the DDT Issue with More Court Cases

8 (p.115) Escalating the DDT Issue with More Court Cases
DDT Wars

Charles F. Wurster

Oxford University Press

While HEW and USDA pondered these appellate court decisions, we turned our attention to several more local DDT problems. From a New York Times article (May 3, 1970), we learned that the Olin Chemical Corporation was manufacturing about 20% of the nation’s DDT in buildings owned by the federal government and leased to Olin on the site of the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama. A DDT-contaminated effluent from this plant was leaking into the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge at concentrations known to inhibit reproduction of birds and fish. The refuge also served as a drinking water supply for the city of Decatur, implying a human health hazard as well. Downriver fisherman were also eating their catch, thus concentrating DDT to higher levels as well. In October 1969, the federal Water Quality Administration had recommended a stricter pollution control standard for the Olin plant. Olin said it could not meet that standard, and the Army then overruled the Water Quality Administration’s recommendation. So on June 5, 1970, EDF, along with the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, sued in Federal District Court against Olin, the Department of the Army, and the Corps of Engineers seeking to stop the DDT-contaminated discharge. The complaint was written by EDF’s new attorney, Edward Lee Rogers. I supplied the scientific support, which was easy, since it was similar, although steadily expanding, to the Wisconsin hearings and the USDA and HEW cases. Only three days later Olin threw in the towel! On June 8 Olin decided to close its DDT plant and no longer make DDT. DDT apparently was not worth defending. They said they had reached that decision shortly before our case was filed. True or not, it was a quick and easy victory. We needed it. We had won by winning. Even as the legal briefs went back and forth between EDF, USDA, HEW, and the appeals court, another DDT battle was brewing in California. For years scientists had been puzzled by the extremely high levels of DDT contamination along the coast of Southern California compared with other marine environments.

Keywords:   Anacapa Island, Chris-Craft, Mississippi River, Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, National Wildlife Federation, Pacific Ocean, San Juan Islands, Stauffer Chemical, Water Quality Administration, cormorants, killer whales, sea lions, white croakers

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