Carson Filipinos living in a state of emergency

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 7, 2013

CARSON, Calif– The city with one of the highest concentrations of Filipinos has declared an emergency, because of the environment. A 50-acre 285 house section of Carson known as Carousel Tract, is built on top of a former Shell Oil company oil deposit. Scientists have ruled the soil as unsafe after finding toxic levels of benzene and methane in the soil four years ago.

Carson’s Filipino Mayor Pro Temp Elito Santarina was among the city council members who voted to declare a state of emergency in the area, hoping the governor and several overseeing offices can assist residents immediately.

“Every month this matter will be on the agenda in order to monitor the progress that is being sought here to benefit our people. That is the best way we can do in order for our citizens to be helped at this time,” explained the longtime city council member.

While some council members have suggested that Shell should clean the site, and help residents relocate, residents have been advised to not eat or drink anything from their gardens.

With almost all of the houses being represented by attorneys for individual lawsuits against Shell, homeowners have been advised to not speak to media.

However Homeowners Association President Barbara Post told Balitang America that the state of emergency resolution is the first positive step in the past five years.

She added that there’s growing safety concern in the close knit neighborhood, with numerous residents currently suffering from cancer, leukemia, tumors, and a variety of respiratory diseases. Pets have also died and the suspected cause is the toxic chemicals polluting the soil.

Fil-Am community leader Fred Docdocil lives across the street from the affected area.

Although his front door is about 200 feet away from the Carousel Tract, the father of two is worried about the environment and as a homeowner.

“If you talk about leaching chemicals like that, it’s scary. We’re adjacent to this so how much leaching really is going on and how much that spread is alarming. It’s been 50 years so there’s no saying of the actual diameter of the affected area,” said the concerned neighbor.

Shell, which still owns facilities in Carson has called the emergency declaration unnecessary and unproductive.

The company has also added that the regional water board must approve and move forward with the cleanup plans, adding that chemicals pose no imminent threat to public health.

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