Willard Bascom's assertion (Editorial Pages, July 3) that Santa Monica Bay is "steadily getting better," reminds me of the movie, "Dr. Strangelove," and the mad general who fell in love with his nuclear bombs. Bascom's strange love is of toxic-laden sewage, which he believes provides nutrients that allow marine life to multiply and prosper when dumped into the ocean.
If this was one eccentric opinion, it would be irrelevant. However, Bascom has been providing "scientific" opinion to decision-makers on the condition of the bay for years.
Recently Bascom's senior staff chemist, Dr. David Brown, at a hearing which I chaired, charged Bascom with using "random numbers" to draw his conclusions, issuing "false information" to an "unsuspecting public," understating the risk of cancer to sports fishermen, failing to report that DDT contamination is spreading to wider areas of the ocean floor, and pressuring his staff to support his conclusions.
In response, Bascom chose a panel of scientists to vindicate himself against Dr. Brown, something akin to a defendant choosing his own jury. What Bascom, and The Times in its coverage, failed to report is that the entire senior scientific staff working under Bascom unanimously concurred with the viewpoint of Dr. Brown.
Santa Monica Bay has been dangerously polluted while Willard Bascom was calling it healthy. It will take strong new policy and regulatory measures to clean up the contamination that Bascom would have us ignore.
Hayden is chair of the Assembly Task Force Investigating Pollution in Santa Monica Bay.