Carson reaches out to help Carousel tract residents struggling with pollution.
Carson reaches out to help Carousel tract residents struggling with pollution. Leaders are working with state water board officials to try to help Carousel tract residents suffering from toxic crude oil pollution left under their homes.
But it remains whether they have any recourse.
Current and former residents signed away their rights to any future challenges to a partial-cleanup agreement in a legal settlement negotiated by Los Angeles firm Girardi & Keese with the polluter, Shell Oil.
The $146 million cleanup plan, approved in late 2014, requires Shell to dig up and truck out more than 4 million cubic feet of contaminated soil from residents’ yards in a process that will last six years, tackling the yards of eight homes at a time.
But it leaves behind pollution under houses that residents recently connected to corroded sewage pipes. That pollution also threatens protected underground drinking water reserves. Though the cleanup plan includes an underground bioventing system to safely remove underground toxic gases.
Now, homeowners are stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in repair bills. While they’re still awaiting dispersal of a $120 million settlement payout for health and emotional damages.
“This is really an issue the residents shouldn’t have to bear the cost on,” City Manager Ken Farfsing said. “We’ve taken this very seriously and are spending a lot of time working on it to come up with an equitable solution.”
Some affected residents who can’t afford plumbing work are living in Third World conditions with stopped drains, mold, fungus, bad odors and hoards of flies attracted by leaking sewage feet below cracked kitchen floors.
A Girardi & Keese official did not respond to an email seeking comment about the problem. The firm will take 40 percent of the $120 million settlement and allocate checks to nearly 1,500 current and former residents based on their level of medical illnesses and other suffering related to decades of exposure to crude oil toxins. They have promised to begin sending payments by Christmas.
Meanwhile, Shell is paying for residents to stay in hotels during sewer pipe repairs and is trucking out soil dug up by plumbers but has otherwise denied responsibility.
“The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region, through its approved remedial action plan, has strict requirements for the removal of hydrocarbon-impacted soil. Including the situation encountered in replacing sewer pipes and other utilities,” said Sam Unger, the water board’s executive officer.
“The remedial action plan requirements include mitigation measures to control vapors, odors, dust, noise and traffic both during and after the cleanup … and to protect human health.”