285 homes in Carson, California contaminated by Shell, experts fear dangerously high levels of methane could cause a massive fireball

285 Homes in Carson Contaminated by Shell by Shannen Hill, July 26, 2013, Los Angeles Sentinel
City officials have partnered with 285 homeowners in the city of Carson, CA to expedite a cleanup of an oil contamination, which has led to lawsuits involving cancer, skin rashes and tumors in the Carousel housing tract, which sits on top of a former Shell Oil tank farm. The oil contamination has been a problem in Carousel since 2008 when tests revealed that the soil beneath these homes contained high levels of benzene and petroleum. In addition to the extraordinarily high benzene levels, the soil has also tested positive for dangerously high levels of methane, leading some environmental experts to fear a massive fireball at Carousel should the gasses ever make it to the surface. …

There have been many efforts in previous years to make this oil cleanup a reality, including the water quality board ordering Shell to clean the 44-acre site over two years ago. However, difficulties continue to arise from Shell Oil Company. Dear believes that the oil company is using delay tactics to limit the cleanup. [Emphasis added]

Carson to declare contaminated housing tract a local emergency by Christine Mai-Duc, July 23, 2013, LA Times
Carson city officials are seeking to declare a local emergency in an effort to pressure the state and an oil company to expedite the cleanup of a contaminated housing tract where residents have been advised not to eat vegetables or fruit from their yards and limit contact with the soil around their homes. Testing in 2008 revealed that the soil and groundwater beneath many of the 285 homes in the Carousel tract, which sit atop a former Shell Oil tank farm, contain benzene and petroleum. Cleanup is not expected to begin for at least another year.

“On a human level, five years is too long for residents to have to wait and still not know if anything is going to be done to protect their health and economic interests,”
said Carson Mayor Jim Dear, who introduced a motion to draft the emergency declaration.

[Encana secretly frac`d Rosebud drinking water aquifers in 2004, still today the community uses water contaminated with methane, ethane, kerosene range heavier hydrocarbons, toluene – a known neurotoxin and any number of toxics not yet disclosed by Encana and Alberta’s “World-Class” regulators. Methane, ethane, arsenic and hexavalent chromium were found in government monitoring water wells in the hamlet.

In the legislature on February 28, 2006, the Alberta government promised permanent safe alternate water supplies for all affected families. The government broke their promise after regulator testing indicated that Encana is the source of the contamination. In 2013, a local newspaper reported that Rosebud’s water will be made safe and clean, but did not detail how or if taxpayers will pay for Encana frac’ing Rosebud’s aquifers and the subsequent contamination.

An additional power line was installed in June 2013; massive construction at the Rosebud water reservoir has been ongoing through the summer. Refer below to photo taken from the Ernst home, July 11, 2013:

2013 07 10 2013 New construction at Rosebud Hamlet Contaminated Water Reservoir

After Encana frac’d Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers in 2004, the original Rosebud water tower blew up in an explosion, seriously injuring a worker. The replacement reservoir cost the community about $700,000. This excludes the costs of the new construction and powerline.]

“To me, there’s no excuse for delaying any action.” For years, the site has been at the center of investigations by state agencies and lawsuits from residents who blame the contamination for a host of illnesses, including cancer, skin rashes and tumors in their pets. The city joined residents in their lawsuit against Shell last year, but with state environmental agencies taking the lead, Dear says, the city’s hands have been tied.

In 2010, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board told residents not to eat fruit or vegetables grown in their yards. And a letter from Shell urged homeowners to limit their contact with “exposed soils in your yard.” Recently, an AT&T crew installing telephone lines reported finding oil oozing out of a hole just three feet deep. The water quality board ordered Shell to clean the 44-acre site more than two years ago. Since then, investigators hired by the company have conducted lengthy yard-to-yard testing to determine whether hydrocarbons in the soil are converting to harmful vapors. A handful of homes, part of a pilot program for cleanup, have had front yards dug up. A comprehensive plan for cleaning the entire site still hasn’t been filed with the water quality board, and additional community input meetings and a separate environmental review for the plan could mean the actual cleanup may not begin until 2015.

“Based on results to date, regulatory agencies have indicated no immediate threat to the community,” said Shell Oil spokeswoman Kayla Macke in an emailed statement. “We take the protection of the residents and the environment seriously and will continue to provide the necessary resources to remediate the neighborhood.”

Dear says he believes the oil company has used delay tactics and tried to limit the scope of the cleanup; he wants Shell to buy all of Carousel’s residents out of their homes before proceeding with the cleanup. [Emphasis added]

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