CARSON (CBS) — Surging levels of potentially toxic chemicals in a Carson neighborhood have prompted city officials to join a lawsuit against Shell Oil.
KNX 1070's Vytas Safronikas reports 285 residents have signed on to hold the firm responsible for what they allege to be a public health threat.
The City Council last week approved joining the suit brought by residents who live north of Lomita Boulevard between Avalon Boulevard and Main Street, near the aging Carousel tank farm that was managed by Shell before the multinational firm sold the land to private developers.
Resident Cathy Post said she was in excellent health before taking up residence 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?'" she said. "I almost died from it twice."
The lawsuit alleges that benzene, methane and other raw petroleum chemicals have been seeping into houses and yards in the neighborhood — a 50-acre swath where the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has already ordered Shell to clean up the tainted soil.
Company spokesman Alan Caldwell said Shell will respond to the lawsuit when it is filed, but in the meantime is "moving forward with the cleanup and abatement order" that was filed in March of last year, according to the Daily Breeze.
But for many of those families who live around the site, the damage has already been done.
"My grandpa died here because of it," said Christina Patton. "The morale has gone down a lot here...no one takes care of their houses anymore because they know it's just going to be torn up."
Shell is undertaking a pilot plan at as many as 10 homes to replace the topsoil with fresh, clean dirt, but attorneys for the homeowners contend the multinational oil firm has stalled cleanup efforts by demanding proof that indoor air is being polluted by leftovers of spilled petrochemicals at the subdivision.
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)
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