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Toxic soil lurks beneath Carson neighborhood

April 27, 2010 | 10:09 am

When Ron and Belinda Oglesby moved into Carson's Carousel neighborhood in 2003, they saw a solid, middle-class area where homeowners set down roots and lived for decades, where Santa Claus paraded through the streets on a firetruck and children returned to buy their own homes.

This, they told themselves, was the perfect place to raise their three kids.

Six years later, they noticed workmen drilling holes and leaving cryptic white marks on the streets.

By last summer, they had discovered what the sudden activity meant: Preliminary tests under the direction of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board had found dangerous levels of potentially explosive methane gas and benzene under the 285 homes of the Carousel tract. In some spots, tests found benzene at concentrations seldom seen, levels that could significantly increase cancer risks for residents.

The discovery has transformed a 50-acre neighborhood of palm trees and quiet streets into an environmental case study — a reminder of Southern California's history as a center of the oil industry and the problems of ground pollution that continue to dot the region.

"How can you get a good night's sleep?" Belinda Oglesby said. "I tell my husband, ‘Get me out of here,' but where are we going? Who'd buy our house? It's like a nightmare that never goes away."

Read the full story here.

--Jeff Gottlieb in Carson