Soil contamination tests at Carson’s Monterey Pines and Carousel housing tracts drew passionate responses during the city’s Nov. 20 Council meeting. Each Council member condemned the gooey mess around homes at the two ’60s-era housing tracts which are adjacent to one another and occupying much of the old Kast Property Tank Farm near the city’s southernmost boundary.

County, state and federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) officials have for two years conducted tests for increased hydrocarbon and methane emissions at the site which, from the 1920s to the mid-1960s, was owned by Shell Oil Co. The company essentially dumped hundreds–maybe thousands–of barrels of crude into pits and covered them over with dirt and gravel.

“There is a tar-like substance oozing up around some homes at Monterey Pines,” said Mayor Jim Dear. “I saw as much as 18 inches of tar at one trench being tested. They need to go down as much as 10 feet to mitigate this seepage. Shell should stop wasting our time and make an offer to purchase all these Carousel homes at market rate.” The Carousel neighborhood, just east of Monterey Pines, is experiencing the same smelly, poisonous mess.

Shell Oil is providing money for the contamination study, but has yet to spring for clean-up costs, purchase the land, as Dear suggested, or provide money to residents for relocation. “Residents should not be kept in the dark about this quality-of-life issue,” said Council member Mike Gipson who requested a monthly report from Shell concerning the clean-up. “Everyone whose lives are affected in these two tracts should be kept informed.”

In other action, the Council passed unanimously the installation of electronic billboards along the I-110 (Harbor) Freeway corridor with the provision that no tobacco advertising be permitted. Federal law prohibits tobacco advertising on billboards, but not alcohol.

Some parents rights groups nationwide have lobbied elected officials to prohibit alcohol advertising to children and teenagers. The electronic billboard, similar to one operated by Lynwood along the 105 Freeway, will be placed near Carson’s sanitation district.

Also approved by a 5-0 vote, so-called “cash-for-gold” businesses can continue to open (and remain in operation) in Carson. This debate arose when a report from the Carson Sheriff’s Substation said there has been an increase in muggings and assaults for gold jewelry near such establishments.

“We don’t want to regulate a business to death,” Dear said, “and it would be unwise to enforce policy which destroys businesses, especially when we’re still inching our way out of recession.”

In the third year of the citywide “Make A Difference Day” at area grade schools, Susan Del Mundo, a teacher at Town Avenue School, reported that her students have eagerly undertaken many environmental tasks for learning as well as community contribution. “We have studied and put into practice the advantages of energy-saving, tree planting, elderly care and recycling,” Del Mundo said. “The children did essays on these subjects. One child received a letter from St. Jude Hospital and was so moved by it, he asked his relatives and neighbors for donations to send to the hospital.”