LOS ANGELES (CN) - Enormous Shell Oil storage tanks in Carson poisoned a neighborhood with toxic chemicals for decades, causing deaths, cancers, autoimmune diseases and other illnesses, more than 300 people claim in Superior Court. Benzene levels under the housing tract on the site are "100,000 times those permitted by law," the plaintiffs' attorney says.
Shell housed three massive oil tanks and drainage fields from 1924 until about 1967 on what is now the "Carson Carousel Housing Tract." Shell knew the houses were built on toxic land and water because of byproduct leaks from its tanks but said nothing about it, the complaint alleges.
In the mid 1960s the land was sold to defendants Barclay Hollander Corp., and about 275 homes were built on it. This summer, the water board discovered extensive contamination by carcinogenic benzene and other chemicals, according to the complaint.
"The benzene levels in the area were 100,000 times those permitted by law," plaintiff's attorney Tom Girardi said in an interview. "Nineteen other toxic chemicals were also found.
"There is an 8 year-old-boy living in the area that is dying from leukemia," Girardi said. "How many eight-year-olds die from leukemia?"
Girardi said that in many homes, most of which cost $400,000 to $500,000, toxic substances can be seen in the grout between the tiles of outdoor patios.
Residents are filling out questionnaires, and the extent of damage, deaths and illnesses is yet to be determined.
Also named as defendants are Oceanic Properties and Castle & Cooke California, which bought the Carousel Tract from Barclay in 1969.
The plaintiffs seek damages for negligence, trespass, nuisance, strict liability, wrongful death, inverse condemnation, fraud and intentional deceit, mental and emotional distress, plus medical expenses, lost wages and costs.
They are represented by Girardi of Girardi Keese.