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Shell Oil ordered to clean up contaminated Carson neighborhood

March 16, 2011 | 12:56 pm

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered Shell Oil Co. to clean up a Carson neighborhood where investigators found dangerous levels of benzene and methane gas.

Residents of the Carousel neighborhood learned of the contamination in recent years, after a state agency investigating the nearby site of an old chemical plant found contaminants in the soil and groundwater, which they traced to the old Shell site.

The 44-acre site was owned by Shell between the 1920s and the mid-1960s and used to store millions of gallons of crude oil. After the site was closed, the land was sold to a developer and eventually nearly 300 homes were built.

Soil tests in the neighborhood since then found elevated methane and benzene at dangerous levels, according to the regional water quality control board.

Shell officials, who could not be immediately reached for comment, have repeatedly said that they sold the property as is to the developer.

The board's order requires the company to submit plans for a cleanup –- a pilot plan must be submitted for approval within 60 days.

"When this is completely cleaned up [residents] will know that their property has been returned to proper conditions," said Fran Diamond, chair of the water board, "and that we have protected their health to the maximum extent that we can …  to the level they are confident that they can live there and their children can play outside and be healthy."

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-- Paloma Esquivel

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