tv 60 Minutes CBS August 16, 2015 7:00pm-8:02pm PDT
captioning funded by cbs and ford >> cooper: you want the company to remove all the flooring...? >> every single board, at their cost, and replace it with clean flooring. >> cooper: he's talking about lumber liquidators, america's largest retailer of hardwood flooring and the subject of a "60 minutes" investigation after we got a tip the company's chinese-made laminate flooring contained unsafe levels of a cancer causing chemical. >> it was so high, in fact, that one of our test labs thought their machine was broken. >> cooper: the lab itself? >> the upper limit of the radar gun and they thought it was broken. >> pelley: the $500 million national museum of african american history and culture is rising on the national mall. the complexion will be rendered
in shades of bronze, a building of color, against history's white marble. >> this is not the museum of tragedy. it is not museum of difficult moments. it is the museum that says, here is a balanced history of america that allows us to cry and smile. >> i've done close to 150 expeditions, and as i look back upon my history, the most important discoveries were the ones that i didn't know were there. >> logan: bob ballard discovered the "titanic" in 1985, and as you'll see tonight, he hasn't stopped exploring. >> oh, i love that. >> logan: when you're operating 2,000 feet beneath the sea, you never know what you'll find... >> oh, beautiful. >> oh, wow. >> holy cow. >> wow! >> logan: ...or what will find you. >> kroft: i'm steve kroft. >> stahl: i'm lesley stahl. >> cooper: i'm anderson cooper.
>> whitaker: i'm bill whitaker. >> logan: i'm lara logan. >> pelley: i'm scott pelley. those stories tonight on "60 minutes." this is my body of proof. proof of less joint pain. and clearer skin. this is my body of proof that i can fight psoriatic arthritis from the inside out ...with humira. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both
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>> cooper: lumber liquidators is the largest retailer of hardwood flooring in north america, with over 360 stores in 46 states and revenues of more than a billion dollars a year. but hardwood isn't the only product they sell. more than 100 million square feet of the company's cheaper laminate flooring is installed in american homes every year. lumber liquidators is a u.s.
company, but much of its laminate flooring is made in china. and as we discovered when we first reported this story in march, it may fail to meet health and safety standards because it contains high levels of formaldehyde, a known cancer- causing chemical. lumber liquidators has insisted ever since our report that its chinese-made laminate flooring is safe, but it doesn't appear that way based on what we learned from our own reporting, and from the work of people like denny larson. you want the company to remove all the flooring? >> denny larson: every single board. at their cost and replace it with clean flooring. >> cooper: how much is that going to a cost? >> larson: you know what? i don't care. because they're guilty of selling people product that could make them sick. >> cooper: these worried california homeowners, who didn't want to be identified, aren't waiting for lumber liquidators. they are ripping up their floors now. but many can't afford to replace the flooring on their own. >> larson: they don't know what
to do. they have flooring that they think is making them sick. >> cooper: california environmental activist denny larson teamed up with richard drury, a prominent environmental attorney, to test lumber liquidators' chinese-made laminate flooring. do you have any idea how much of this wood is in people's homes right now? >> richard drury: we believe there are probably tens of thousands of households in california that have installed lumber liquidators' chinese laminates that may exceed the formaldehyde standards. >> cooper: nationwide? >> drury: nationwide, it's probably hundreds of thousands. >> cooper: drury and larson bought more than 150 boxes of laminate flooring at stores around california and sent them to three certified labs for a series of tests. the results? while laminate flooring from home depot and lowe's had acceptable levels of formaldehyde, as did lumber liquidators' american-made laminates, every single sample of chinese-made laminate flooring from lumber liquidators failed to meet california formaldehyde emissions standards, many by a large
margin. >> drury: the average level in lumber liquidators products that we found was over six to seven times above the state standard for formaldehyde. and we found some that were close to 20 times above the level that's allowed to be sold. >> cooper: that sounds like a huge amount. >> drury: it's a startling amount. it was so high, in fact, that one of our test labs thought their machine was broken. >> cooper: the lab itself thought... >> larson: it hit the upper limit on the radar gun. and they thought it was broken. >> philip landrigan: it's not a safe level, it's a level that the u.s. e.p.a. calls polluted indoor conditions. >> cooper: would you want that in your home? >> landrigan: no. >> cooper: dr. philip landrigan of new york's mt. sinai hospital specializes in environmental pediatrics and exposure to toxic chemicals. he's talking about the results of another kind of test drury and larson conducted measuring the concentration of formaldehyde emissions coming off the laminates into the air of a typical home. >> landrigan: i would say long- term exposure at that level
would be risky because it would increase the risk for chronic respiratory irritation, change in a person's lung function, increased risk of asthma. it's not going to produce symptoms in everybody, but children will be the people most likely to show symptoms at that sort of level. >> cooper: children are featured prominently in lumber liquidators ads, and the company likes to promote the donations of flooring they make to habitat for humanity, ronald mcdonald house charities, schools, and community centers. >> trust the people over two millions families trust... the flooring experts at lumber liquidators. >> cooper: and on their website, lumber liquidators promises that all of their flooring "meets or exceeds rigorous emissions standards". and they say "we not only comply with laws, we exceed them." is that true? >> drury: that is not a true statement. >> cooper: is it legal to sell these boxes of wood in california? >> drury: no, it is not. it is illegal to sell these boxes of wood in california. we hope that they will not sell these products anywhere in the
nation, because they are above the health-based standards that the state has set. >> cooper: drury and larson, who are backed by short sellers-- a group of wall street investors who are betting the company is overvalued-- have sued lumber liquidators, accusing them of violating california's toxic warning statute. drury has also launched a class- action lawsuit against the company. it is legal for flooring to contain formaldehyde. the chemical is present in some of the cheap glues used in factories like this one in china. this footage was recorded by investigators hired by "60 minutes." formaldehyde is in the glues used to bind wood particles together to make the core boards in laminate flooring. the laminated top, which covers the core board, keeps most of the formaldehyde emissions trapped inside. but formaldehyde does leak into the air. how much is inhaled by homeowners depends on how much formaldehyde is in the glue and how much ventilation is in the home. >> larson: you're in a chamber, so you're living with it. you're sleeping in there.
and you're constantly exposed. that's the threat. the constant exposure to a potent carcinogen over a long period of time. >> cooper: because formaldehyde can cause myeloid leukemia and nasopharengeal cancer at high levels and respiratory issues as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation at even low levels, california has strict standards for how much of the chemical the core boards in laminate flooring can emit. every box of laminate flooring lumber liquidators sells carries this label, stating its carb phase two compliant. "carb" is an acronym for the california air resources board, which sets strict standards for formaldehyde emissions in wood flooring. congress adopted california's limits when it passed the formaldehyde standards act in 2010. that law is scheduled to take effect nationwide this year. drury and larson only had wood tested that was being sold in california. but we wondered if the chinese- made laminate flooring that lumber liquidators is selling
nationwide also has high levels of formaldehyde. so we went to stores in virginia... florida... texas... illinois... and new york... and bought 31 boxes of it. we sent the samples for testing at two certified labs. it turns out of the 31 samples of chinese-made laminate flooring, only one was compliant with formaldehyde emissions standards. some were more than 13 times over the california limit. both labs told us they had never seen formaldehyde levels that high. but when we took those test results to lumber liquidators' founder and chairman tom sullivan, he refused to accept the methodology as valid and points out the company is not required by law to test their finished products like we did. >> tom sullivan: it's not a real-world test of the laminate; it's not the way it's used. >> cooper: you say you don't believe in this test, but what you believe doesn't really matter-- it's what the california air resources board believes. and they believe in this test. >> sullivan: we will do whatever the regulations are. >> cooper: i just don't
understand how a group can do tests on your chinese-made laminates and every single one of those failed to meet the emissions standards. >> sullivan: people have different reasons for this test. this is a group of lawyers who are suing us selling short on our stock. >> cooper: but the short sellers are not conducting this test, it's these certified labs. >> sullivan: but it started with short sellers. >> cooper: one of the first people to raise questions about lumber liquidators back in 2013 was whitney tilson, a wall street hedge fund manager. he has shorted the company's stock but is not involved in any lawsuits against it. >> whitney tilson: in 16 years of professional money management, i've seen hundreds of companies do all sorts of bad things to get their stock prices up. but this has got to be the worst. >> cooper: whitney tilson studies the workings of companies he's interested in investing in, and he noticed the profit margins at lumber liquidators seemed unusually high compared to its competitors. >> tilson: when you see a commodity business suddenly double its profit margins, that raises red flags. >> cooper: because it's hard to have your profit margin double in two years?
>> tilson: exactly. it's almost unprecedented for a company. >> cooper: based on those profits, lumber liquidators' stock price had gone from $13 a share in 2011 to $119 in 2013. tilson suspected the company might be breaking the law. he learned there was already a federal investigation looking into the company for allegedly buying timber illegally logged in russia. u.s. agents raided lumber liquidators' headquarters in september of 2013. the company denies buying illegally logged wood but admits that the department of justice is seeking criminal charges against them. six months after he bet millions the stock would go down, whitney tilson got tipped off by someone familiar with lumber liquidators' operations in china, who said he was missing the bigger story. >> tilson: the much bigger story, he said, is that lumber liquidators was almost certainly purchasing formaldehyde-tainted laminated flooring in china. >> cooper: why would lumber
liquidators purchase wood that's tainted with formaldehyde? >> tilson: the answer is greed, plain and simple. it's cheaper and net, it reduces the cost by about 10%. >> cooper: which in a business with these kinds of profit margins, 10% means it's a lot of money? >> tilson: it's enormous. >> sullivan: our goal is to sell a good product at a good price. and we don't get the price by skimping on anything. we get the price by low overhead, huge volume, and being very efficient at what we do. and we're never going to a sell something unsafe. >> cooper: do you trust your mills in china? >> sullivan: we do. we have inspectors that double- check them. the mills are licensed by california... the chinese mills we deal with in the laminates are licensed by california. >> cooper: when you say it's licensed by california, what that really means is california says this mill is capable of making carb 2 compliant product. california is not saying every piece... every product coming out of this mill is carb 2 compliant. >> sullivan: but our specs are to make it to california standards. >> cooper: but for months, we had been hearing from former lumber liquidators employees,
suppliers, and industry competitors that their chinese- made laminates are not being made to california standards. so we sent our investigators undercover to the city of changzhou, the laminate flooring capital of the world. posing as buyers, and using hidden cameras, the investigators visited three different mills that manufacture laminates for lumber liquidators. employees at the mills openly admitted that they use core boards with higher levels of formaldehyde to make lumber liquidators laminates, saving the company ten to 15% on the price. at all three mills, they also admitted falsely labeling the company's laminate flooring as carb 2, meaning it meets california formaldehyde emissions standards, and the new u.s. federal law. at this factory, the general manager told investigators lumber liquidators is one of their biggest customers. >> this is a best-seller for lumber liquidators. >> for lumber liquidators? yeah? >> yeah. >> how long have you been
selling this? >> from last year. >> is this carb 2? >> cooper: carb 2 means it's compliant with california law. but listen to what the general manager told us. >> no, no, no... i have to be honest with you. it's not carb 2. >> can i get carb 2? >> yes, you can. it's just the price issue. we can make carb 2 but it would be very expensive. >> cooper: and that's the same thing the undercover team was told at all three mills they visited. >> all this stuff here, lumber liquidators... all their labeling is carb 2, right? but it's not carb 2? >> not carb 2. >> cooper: remember, lumber liquidators founder and chairman tom sullivan says that he trusts the chinese mills his company uses. employees at all three mills told us the laminates they make are not carb 2 compliant. i want you to look at this. we shared some of our hidden camera footage with him. >> sullivan: i don't know the whole situation here. i will guarantee we'll be in that mill tomorrow and test it.
and that is not anything we can condone in any way, to save a cent. >> cooper: this concerns you? >> sullivan: yeah, yeah, of course. >> cooper: is this acceptable to you? >> sullivan: if it's true, no. >> cooper: all three mills told us they falsely label your products as carb 2 compliant-- that's cheating. >> sullivan: that would be if that's true. >> cooper: nobody's ever reported this to you? >> sullivan: again, we will investigate it. if there is anything going on, we will stop it immediately. i don't know if it's true or not. i don't know what the whole story is, but we will investigate it immediately. >> cooper: it certainly calls into question not just these mills, but it calls into question your oversight of these mills. >> sullivan: it could, yes. >> cooper: two months after we first broadcast this story, lumber liquidators pulled all its chinese-made laminate flooring from the market nationwide. also since then, the chief executive officer resigned and the chief financial officer was replaced. the chief merchandising officer,
who was in charge of sourcing from china, was fired. multiple state and federal investigations are underway by agencies including the consumer product safety commission, the california air resources board, and the department of justice. this past week, a spokesman for the company said "lumber liquidators has taken and continues to take significant steps to investigate these issues and reassure our customers." >> cbs money watch update brought to you in part by: >> glor: good evening. germany's angela merkel said today greece cannot expect its debt to be cut. dish network and sinclair broadcast agreed to a short-term contract extension as talks continue. and fed minutes on wednesday could offer new clues about a potential september rate hike. i'm jeff glor, cbs news. dunkin' donuts k-cups
new dunkin' donuts k-cup pods are here, >> pelley: 400 years have passed since america's original sin, and still, riots are ignited in the friction between race and justice. as this debate continues, the smithsonian is completing a monumental project, the $500 million national museum of african american history and culture. the idea was authorized by an act of congress, which called it "a tribute to the negro's contribution to the achievements of america." the words are jarring because the act was written in 1929. as we first told you last spring, building this museum has been a long struggle, just like the story it hopes to tell.
beside the monument to washington, a slave-holding president, the museum is breaking free of the ground on the mall's last five acres. eight decades after congress framed a museum on paper, and then failed to fund it, the dream is being written, this time in steel and stone: ten floors-- five above ground, five below; its complexion, rendered in shades of bronze, a building of color against history's white marble. you've been at this nine years now. it's a big job. >> lonnie bunch: well, as i tell people, at 8:00 in the morning, i have the best job in america, and at 2:00 in the morning, it's the dumbest thing i've ever done in my life. this is a romare bearden from the 1950s. >> pelley: sleepless nights are all in a day's work for the museum's founding director, lonnie bunch, a scholar of the 19th century. >> bunch: clearly, this is...
ought to be one of those moments where people are going to sort of reflect, pause. what does it mean once we open? what does it mean in terms of development opportunities? >> pelley: in 2003, president bush signed the law creating the museum. congress put up $250 million, and bunch has raised most of another $250 million. >> bunch: i knew that this is where this museum would have to be, that this is america's front lawn, and this is the place where people come to learn what it means to be an american, and this museum needs to be there. >> pelley: so, we're on the ground floor. this is where the visitors will come in. this will be their first experience in the museum. so, what's going to be here? >> bunch: they will walk in either from the mall or from constitution ave, and they will run into amazing pieces of african-american art. >> pelley: when all of this is finally complete, what will america have? >> bunch: america will have a place that allows them to remember-- to remember how much
we as a country have been improved, changed, challenged, and made better by the african- american experience. they'll have a place that they can call home, but they'll also have a place that will make them change. >> pelley: but even this place is only space until you fill it. >> oh, my goodness. now, did somebody already look at some of these things for you? >> no. >> no?! >> pelley: seven years ago, the smithsonian began rummaging the attics and basements of america. >> this may have marked a milestone in his life. and what we don't know is what that was. >> but at least it gives me something i can investigate. >> pelley: 3,000 people brought their family history to 16 smithsonian events across the country. >> mary elliott: and this is the early free black family based out of baltimore? >> yes. >> pelley: it sounds like "antiques roadshow." >> nancy bercaw: it is like "antiques roadshow." >> pelley: mary elliott and nancy bercaw are curators. >> elliott: we have experts from across the museum field. experts in conservation. experts who understand about
paper, about metals, about you name it-- fabrics, textiles. and they come in and they review objects for the public. >> the coating on this is in pretty good condition. >> some of that looks like it's dried out a little bit. >> and don't put it near the air conditioning unit because that will dry it out too much. >> pelley: how do you convince someone to give up a priceless family heirloom? >> bercaw: do you know what? our museum pitches itself. all we have to do is tell the absolute honest truth. people have been waiting for us. people in america have been waiting for this moment. and so, literally, they just hand us things. >> elliot: and we're very excited like you are. >> pelley: thousands of relics were examined, but only 25 will be in the collection. this is one of them. >> renee anderson: this was actually a connection we made with the family. mr. jesse burke was an enslaved man, and he was charged with playing this violin and entertaining the slave holder
and his guest. >> pelley: this is the smithsonian's warehouse in maryland, where the story is being written. and these are a few of the lines. "received by grigsby e. thomas, the sum of $350 in full payment for a negro boy by the name of jim, about ten years old, this 31st day of december, 1835." jim would have been familiar with these-- shackles dating before 1860, bondage that might have been broken if the keeper of this bible had succeeded in his bloody rebellion. nat turner had said that god commanded him to break the chains. his bible was taken away before his execution. paul gardullo is a leader of the curating team. >> paul gardullo: i think many of us who know the story of slavery know about nat turner; know about nat turner from the perspective of perhaps a freedom
fighter, perhaps a murderer. well, we know this is a religious person. we know this is a person who can read, and when you begin with that, and those ideas, suddenly, the person of nat turner and your understandings of nat turner take on a whole new light. and i look to do that again and again, ways that we can see well-worn stories, stories we think we know, in a new light. >> pelley: you may think you know the story of a boy murdered for whistling at a white woman, until you are confronted with his casket. >> bunch: the story of emmett till is a crucially important story in terms of what it tells us, both about sort of reinvigorating the civil rights movement, but also it's a story of his mother, mamie mobley, who was really one of the most powerful people, who said that her son's murder should not be in vain, that it should help to
transform america. >> pelley: no one was punished for the murder of emmett till. his body was exhumed in a later investigation, and the original casket was neglected. >> bunch: but then the question was-- would we ever display it? should we ever display it? and i wrestled a lot with it, but then i realized i kept hearing mamie mobley in my head. and she said, "i opened this casket to change the world, to make the world confront the dangers, the power, the ugliness of race in america." >> pelley: a lot of the things that you intend to put on display are going to be hard to look at. >> bunch: what i'm trying to do is find the right tension between moments of sadness and moments of resiliency. >> pelley: one resilient moment came out of the blue. air force captain matt quy and his wife tina rebuilt an old crop duster, and in curiosity, they sent the serial number to
an air force historian. >> matt quy: and he said, "are you sitting down? because i have some news for you." >> pelley: turned out, in 1944, the stearman trained america's first black squadrons, the tuskegee airmen, who flew to fame in world war ii. >> tina quy: i had never really known much about the tuskegee airmen. i'd seen a p-51 plane, but i'd never really, truly understood what it meant. >> matt quy: take your time. >> pelley: before donating the plane, known as a pt-13, the quys carried the last of the airmen back to the air. >> matt quy: and it was just great to sit back in the back seat and look at this real tuskegee airman in a real tuskegee airplane. just magical. >> leo gray: the greatest thrill in my life was sitting in the seat where you are and watching the ground drop out from underneath me. the pt-13 was the baby that we used to learn how to fly. >> pelley: the smithsonian collected the thoughts of
lieutenant colonel leo gray in 2010. >> gray: they said we couldn't fly. but we had the best record of any fighter group in the 15th air force, and probably in the air force itself. we stayed with our bombers, we brought them home as best we could. and we proved that we could fly. >> pelley: time is the enemy of history, so smithsonian conservationists have been working for years restoring america's heritage from textiles to trains. this 1920 railcar had two sections-- "white" and "colored." the same number of seats, but "colored" was compressed in half the space-- physical, touchable, jim crow confinement just like the guard tower from the prison in angola, louisiana, notorious for cruelty. >> carlos bustamante: it's about 21 feet tall.
and this is cast concrete, so it's an enormous object. >> pelley: from monumental to miniscule, carlos bustamante is the project manager building a place for 33,000 moments in time. >> bustamante: so when you had the railcar, the railcar pieces, the guard tower, and all the support equipment, we had a convoy of about 12 semi-trucks traveling down the road across six states to get here. and it took them about three days. >> pelley: how do you get those things into this building? >> bustamante: so we set up two very, very large cranes. and these cranes are... are rare, there's not a lot of them this size. and we picked up these two objects, and basically brought them over the site and lowered them down about 60 feet below grade. >> pelley: the answer is, you don't move these objects into the building, you put these objects in place and you build the building around them? >> bustamante: exactly. there's no other way.
>> gardullo: oftentimes, what i'm drawn to are some of the smaller things-- shards of glass that were picked up after the bombing of the 16th street baptist church in birmingham, alabama. and it's finding the balance between the big and the small, scott, that makes this work a challenge and so wonderful. >> pelley: what is something that you desperately want and have not been able to find? >> gardullo: i want willie mays' mitt. ( laughs ) >> pelley: which would be quite a catch to display along with louis armstrong's horn, and chuck berry's horn behind the chrome of his '73 cadillac. there's the welcome of minton's playhouse, which resonated to miles, monk and dizzy. ali's headgear, pristine condition. and this firemen's head gear, a revolutionary invention in 1914 by mechanical genius garrett morgan.
do you think the country's ready for this now? >> bunch: i don't think america is ever ready to have the conversation around race, based on what we see around the landscape, whether it's ferguson or other places, that people are really ready to shine the light on all the dark corners of the american experience. but i hope this museum will help, in a small way, to do that. >> pelley: this is not the american museum of slavery? >> bunch: this is not the museum of tragedy. it is not the museum of difficult moments. it is the museum that says, "here is a balanced history of america that allows us to cry and smile." >> and now a sex sports update brought to you by pref far.
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trillions of dollars in untapped natural resources and, as we saw on our journey, a wealth of american history. as we first reported in may, robert ballard calls it "the unknown america." we joined him about 100 miles off the coast of mississippi in the gulf of mexico. >> robert ballard: if you ask someone, "how much of the united states do you think lies beneath the sea?" they may say, "5% or 10%." and when you tell them that half of their country lies beneath the sea and is unexplored, they don't believe you. >> logan: does it have a special meaning for you because it's home? >> ballard: yeah, i'm 13th generation american. i love my country. and i served in the army. i served in the navy. i'm a boy scout, yeah. >> logan: bob ballard's "unknown america" stretches out to 200 nautical miles from all our coasts. this vast undersea area is
called the u.s. exclusive economic zone. and the united states has sovereign rights over all the natural resources that lie there, like this methane gas ballard filmed bubbling up from the seafloor off the coast of louisiana. >> ballard: oh, look at that! >> logan: the zone was established by president ronald reagan in 1983, and few realized that it more than doubled the area within america's boundaries. >> ballard: reagan may have signed a sheet of paper, but he did not follow it up with a modern-day version of a lewis and clark expedition to actually find out what we own. >> logan: and that's what you're doing? >> ballard: that's what we're doing. >> logan: with technology not fathomable during president reagan's time, ballard is exploring and mapping as much of these waters as he can aboard the "nautilus," this 200-foot state-of-the-art ship of exploration. >> ballard: i mean, you can't manage something until you know what you've got. so, before you can exploit, you explore. and so that's what we are doing right now.
we're trying to get a fundamental understanding of what we own. we've got mapping cameras on there. >> logan: his remotely operated vehicles can go down more than 13,000 feet. "hercules" is armed with an array of cameras, ballard's eyes under the sea. "argus" hovers above, lighting up the depths with its powerful floodlights. >> ballard: keep going, keep going. >> logan: on our first day at sea, ballard's team was on a mission for archaeologists with the u.s. government. >> ballard: oh, look at that. >> logan: how far away are we now? >> ballard: 40 meters-- a hundred and some feet. and we're creeping up because we don't know what we're walking into. we're going down a dark alley. >> logan: he'd been given the coordinates for a mysterious object that had been picked up on sonar by shell oil, and he was asked to find out what it was. what do you think it could be? >> ballard: it's a ship. >> logan: it is definitely? >> ballard: oh, yeah, look at that. it's a ship. it's just a question of whose ship and what ship, and it's a big one.
it's a big ship. >> logan: there it is. >> ballard: there we have it. we have visual. >> logan: out of the darkness, nearly 8,000 feet below, a tangled web of cables and rope. it was an enormous ship, nearly two football fields in length. >> ballard: oh, it's in pretty good shape. >> logan: i know, it's like it just landed there. ballard searched the ghostly site for clues. >> ballard: there's an "h-e"... see that "h-e"? >> logan: yeah. >> ballard: it's like battle ribbons or something. i'm interested that all the windows are battened down. see all those windows? they prepared it. you don't have time in a disaster to do that. was this something sunk purposely? we're going to find out. >> logan: it's fascinating trying to unravel the mystery of it. >> ballard: yeah, isn't it fun? >> logan: yeah. bob ballard has been unraveling deep sea mysteries for 55 years, and none better known than the "titanic," which he found in 1985 after others had tried and
failed. >> and then you see neil armstrong... >> logan: we asked him to show us around the explorer's club in new york city, where he's honored as one of the greatest explorers of the past century, and he told us he's committed the rest of his life to searching america's seas. what is down there that you think you're going to find? >> ballard: i've done close to 150 expeditions. and as i look back upon my history, the most important discoveries were the ones that i didn't know were there. i can only tell you that we've looked at so little, there has to be huge new discoveries still waiting for us. >> logan: part of what inspired his american exploration is what he calls the "battlefields of the deep." but right now, we're in the gulf of mexico. >> ballard: yeah. >> logan: beneath us is a world war ii battlefield. >> ballard: yep, most people don't realize that, during world war ii, german u-boats were
right where we're sitting right now, sinking american ships. and lots of americans were dying. >> logan: 56 allied ships were lost to the nazis in the gulf of mexico, part of a campaign hitler called "operation drumbeat." he celebrated germany's u-boat victories in wartime propaganda films like this one. >> ballard: okay, dead ahead. get ready for a big baby. >> logan: one of those lost was an american passenger ship, the "robert e. lee." and there she was, appearing slowly out of the gloom. this is what she used to look like, in one of the few surviving photographs taken just months before she was hit by a single torpedo in july 1942. she went down by the stern in about 10 minutes, taking 25 people with her, and came to rest nearly 5,000 feet below. >> ballard: there you can see the decks and the passageways.
>> logan: now, you can really see it. 72 years later, her windows were still intact, a bell still hanging in place, her gun still mounted to the stern. >> ballard: this is an underwater national park. just like a civil war battlefield. just like going to pearl harbor. we're just a little deeper. >> logan: what's remarkable is that the "robert e. lee" shares her watery grave with the u-boat that sank her, the u-166, seen here during sea trials in this old german film. now, she lies under 5,000 feet of water. for decades, no one knew these wrecks were just a few miles apart until b.p. and shell oil conducted a pipeline survey here in 2001. how many people died on here? >> ballard: the whole crew. >> logan: their bodies are still inside? >> ballard: they're still inside. that's a tomb. >> logan: bob ballard's mission was to try to film both wrecks in ways they hadn't been seen before. >> ballard: so now you just go
straight up and around like you're going to crawl up onto the deck. look at that beautiful reveal. oh, i love that. >> logan: as luck would have it, the seas were calm and the images he captured are considered some of the clearest views of these sites. they're featured in a "nova"- "national geographic" documentary. >> ballard: okeanos, that's really cool. >> logan: bob ballard is not alone in his american adventure. his ship, the "nautilus," has joined forces with the "okeanos explorer," operated by noaa, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration. >> ballard: they're the only two official ships of exploration that the federal government has. i'd like to have 20, but i'll go for two. it's better than zero, which was just a few years ago. >> logan: both the "nautilus" and the "okeanos explorer" are mapping the seafloor using multi-beam sonar attached to their hulls, a capability so powerful, it used to be classified during the cold war. how important is mapping to you in what the "nautilus" is doing?
>> ballard: people think, "well, the... the ocean's a big bathtub full of mud." well, the largest mountain ranges on earth are under the ocean. there are canyons down there that make the grand canyon look like a ditch. the biggest features on our planet are beneath the sea. >> logan: ballard works closely with larry mayer, the director of the center for coastal and ocean mapping at the university of new hampshire, a world leader in creating 3-d maps based on multi-beam data. >> larry mayer: our goal is to get the whole ocean mapped at this... >> logan: to look like that. >> mayer: brilliant! we can do it. we... we've done it for the moon, we've done it for mars. let's... let's do it for our own planet. >> logan: this is what the seafloor looks like with multi- beam data just 90 miles from new york city. you can see the hudson canyon with walls 3,000 feet high. and here, you are looking at the new england sea mounts far off the coast of massachusetts, some
rising 10,000 feet from the bottom of the ocean. >> mayer: let's turn off the multi-beam data and just see what those mountains looked like without the multi-beam data. >> logan: look at that. >> mayer: that's all you'd see. yes, there was a bump and it would probably get close to getting the right height. but the difference is just something when we see what the multi-beam sonar adds. >> logan: and what do you gain from this knowledge? >> mayer: it's giving us an insight. it's like lifting a veil. you know, all we've seen is the top of the water. now, we can see what's going on underneath. >> logan: bob ballard always travels with a team of scientists, and on our trip, they had come to take samples of the mussels living around this brine pool, an underwater lake with its own shoreline. with no sunlight and almost no food at this depth, the mussels have learned to live off methane gas rising up from below. >> ballard: and we want to understand how do they do that? can we isolate them and use them? it's amazing what these
organisms are processing and thriving in. >> logan: so when you look at that, do you think about all the secrets that they're holding that we haven't unlocked yet? >> ballard: exactly. how do you do this, and can we turn it to our advantage? >> logan: ballard's team on the "nautilus" explores for about six months a year, sailing with a crew of 50. and everything they do is shared in real time on the internet, which is how this rare encounter with a sperm whale nearly 2,000 feet down in the gulf of mexico was seen around the world. >> wow! awesome! >> oh, wow. >> holy cow. >> wow. >> logan: scientists had been sampling seawater near the site of the b.p. oil spill when this curious juvenile male circled "hercules" for 15 minutes. >> ballard: scientists don't normally share their data right away. we share it the minute we collect it because we want everyone to help.
we can't wait to turn the corner and go, "what in the world is that?" and then immediately, reach off the ship and call someone, wake them up. they're in bed and say, "turn on your laptop!" >> logan: that's how ballard's team identified that massive ship we saw earlier at the bottom of the gulf. >> ballard: yeah, what the heck is it? it's a... it looks like a naval vessel. you saw it work in a matter of minutes. we don't know what it is. and the archeologists and the maritime historian, they don't know what it is. and then people started coming in on the web and saying, you know, it's a spruance class destroyer. >> logan: it was an american warship, the u.s.s. "peterson." one of the sailors who served on her gave us this footage of the night 14 tomahawk missiles were launched from her deck into baghdad in 1993, retaliation for an iraqi plan to assassinate former president george h.w. bush. and just as ballard suspected,
the ship was sunk intentionally. we got this video from the u.s. navy, which shows them testing a new fire-fighting system aboard the "peterson" 11 years ago. the navy told us they sank her right afterwards, but they didn't share that information. and those archeologists in the u.s. government who had turned to bob ballard had no idea the u.s.s. "peterson" was down there. so that is one mystery solved? >> ballard: yep, chalk that one up. next. >> logan: and there'll be more. >> ballard: there'll always be more. that's what's the fun of it. can't wait for the next mystery. >> for a look at how "60 minutes" reports its stories, as well as interviews with correspondents and producers, go to 60minutesovertime.com. sponsored by lyrica before fibromyalgia, i was the go-to person. i was energetic.
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test. >> previously on big brother, with shelly and vanessa on the block, julie surprised the house. >> julie: it is double eviction night. >> here we go. >> and the georgia peach became the first casualty of the night. >> shelli, you are evicted from the big brother house. >> with power back on the line, steve won his first head of household of the summer. >> julie: you are the new head of household! >> and quickly made some surprising nominations. >> meg and jackie, i'm sorry. >> the veto competition was a slippery slope. and johnnie mack snowed his opponents.