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In Brief

California Lost 174,000 Tons of Toxic Waste

Pollution at Doheny Beach, Calif.
Pollution at Doheny Beach, Calif. (Image credit: Hannah Arista Photography)

Uh-oh. California has lost track of 174,000 tons of toxic materials slated for disposal.

Tons of hazardous waste such as lead, benzene and a flammable solvent called methyl ethyl ketone (nicknamed "methyl ethyl death") were shipped for disposal, but never recorded as having arrived at their disposal sites, according to a public database.

It's probably too soon to start wearing a hazmat suit to work, though, as officials think the toxic substances were probably destroyed. "I do not believe that Californians are at risk," Debbie Raphael, director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, told the Los Angeles Times.

California has some of the strictest laws on hazardous waste on the books, with dry cleaners, heavy manufacturers and other business owners having to log every shipment of toxic waste.

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Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.