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Carson Mayor Calls On City Council To Declare Condition Of Local Emergency Over Polluted Soil

CARSON ( — Members of the Carson City Council were expected to hold a special meeting Monday night after the city's mayor urged lawmakers to declare a condition of local emergency over polluted soil in one local neighborhood.

In March 2011, the state Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered Shell Oil Company to "assess, monitor, and cleanup and abate total petroleum hydrocarbons and other contaminants of concern" in the soil and groundwater in the Carousel community.

Located at the former Kast Property Tank Farm, the tract of homes was built on top of land that Shell had previously owned and used to store barrels of oil, according to city officials.

In the early 1960s, the tanks were drained and abandoned and the property sold to a developer. According to city officials, the area was supposed to be cleaned by Shell Oil before the 278 homes were built.

The report (PDF) found higher-than-normal levels of benzyne, arsenic, lead, and other chemicals in over 200 soil samples of the property.

Residents like Cathy Post who live in the Carousel community north of Lomita Boulevard between Avalon Boulevard and Main Street have reported adverse health affects from living near the site.

"Within two years of living here, I was hit with flesh-eating disease and I remember thinking, 'What the hell happened to me?'" Post said. "I almost died from it twice."

The mayor said Shell promised to address the situation four years ago but has done nothing to date.

"They told me, 'Mayor Dear, we're going to the right thing'," he said. "Now we want you, Shell, to live up to that. Do the right thing."

Mayor Jim Dear is asking the city council to declare a condition of local emergency for the area, which he said will force Shell to the bargaining table.

"Purchase all the homes in the track, purchase the land from the city," said Mayor Dear. "Clean it properly."

Erin Brockovich, the long-time crusader against pollution in California, is among those lending support to the cause.

"This is a problem that is plaguing us across the country," said Brockovich.

Meantime, residents of the Carousel say they are stuck living in the community.

"We can't leave," said one resident. "We can't buy, we can't sell."

The soil findings were previously blamed as a major factor in derailing plans for a possible NFL stadium in the northwest corner of Carson.

Shell said the company would wait for the council's decision.

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