Carson officials moved ahead Tuesday evening with a lawsuit against Shell Oil Co. calling on the petroleum giant to clean up oil and chemicals oozing up from the Carousel housing tract. The city joined a 2012 suit brought forth by residents living north of Lomita Boulevard between Avalon Boulevard and Main Street demanding that benzene, methane and other raw petroleum chemicals be mitigated, and some compensation be awarded to residents.
City attorney William Wynder said the city is prepared to “… pursue all litigation strategies” in Los Angeles Superior Court to bring about a legal resolution to the recurring problem at Shell’s old 44-acre tank farm that once stored millions of gallons of oil and other chemicals used to process petroleum products between the 1920s and the late 1960s when the oil giant sold it to developers who built the 300-home tract.
Soil tests as late as March 2011 found the already elevated amounts of methane and benzene have reached dangerous levels and continue to seep into houses and yards.
In March, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board completed residential sampling and found that 93 percent of the present 285 homes were screened for methane. Last spring, Shell undertook a pilot program to replace topsoil with fresh dirt at 10 homes, but attorneys for the homeowners contend that the multinational firm stalled cleanup activities when it demanded proof that indoor air is being polluted by leftover petrochemicals.
Another oil refiner, Tesoro Corp., received permission this month from state and federal regulators to purchase BP’s Carson refinery and other assets for $2.4 billion. Tesoro wants to complete the deal by the end of June, and, if successful, the San Antonio-based firm will become the largest refiner in the Pacific region. Its gasoline is sold under the Tesoro, Shell and USA brands.
BP’s Carson facility refines about 266,000 barrels of oil daily and supplies 25 percent of Los Angeles’ gasoline.
In other news, Capt. Eddie Rivera of the Carson sheriff’s substation said the department will host a gun buyback on July 20 at Civic Center, expecting to recover more than 500 firearms. “This could be the department’s largest gun buyback ever,” Rivera said. “Deputies will be on hand to receive your firearm and reward you with a gift certificate. These buybacks have resulted in removing thousands of dangerous firearms from our streets … and particularly out of the hands of young people.”
Three Carson schools, Bonita Street Elementary, Caroldale Learning Center and Towne Avenue Elementary, were commended by the City Council for their efforts in reducing campus energy use. As part of the “PowerSave” program for local school campuses, Bonita students learned to turn off lights, shut the doors and cut costs this year by 11.6 percent for a savings of $2,080. By this effort, the Los Angeles Unified School District will return $1,040 to the school. Caroledale students did likewise and reduced energy usage by 7.1 percent (saving $2,358) by half-lighting each class. Towne Avenue saved $1,471 by reducing energy use by 9.3 percent.
Mayor Jim Dear proposed establishing an ad hoc committee to study the celebration of Carson’s 45th anniversary at the end of this year, while a list of new city commission members was approved by a 5-0 vote. Also, Dear announced that Cinemark Theatres will move into the South Bay Pavilion later this year.