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South LA residents near urban oil field say odor making them sick

September 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
People living near an urban oil field are complaining of foul smells that they say are making them sick. The oil wells are located on the 800 block of West 23rd Street in South Los Angeles.

Monic Uriate and her family have lived in an affordable housing complex in South Los Angeles for the last six years, but she says the problems started three years ago when Allenco Energy took over the urban oil field across the street.

"My daughter has nosebleeds, headaches, stomach ache," said Uriate. "The fumes from Allenco, I think they are getting us sick."

She says the fumes are so sickening she and her neighbors can't open their windows or take walks. The residents have taken the complaints to the Air Quality Management District , or AQMD.

"Over the last three years, according to us, we have made up to 270 calls," said Nancy Ibrahim, executive director of Esperanza Community Housing.

AQMD did test this site several times in 2011. They found some sulfur compounds, which would explain the odor. But what they did not find was any toxic air contaminants.

"We're not drilling any wells. There's no fracking to be done here," said Tim Parker with Allenco Energy.

What Allenco says it's doing is using seven of its 21 wells to extract crude oil and pipe it into Long Beach to be refined and sold.

"We believe we're absolutely working 100 percent within the confines and within the guidelines that are dictated to us by several agencies as well as the DOG, OSHA, AQMD," said Parker.

AQMD says it has cited Allenco six times for odors since 2010. Allenco says they've fixed the problems. But with increasing community concern, AQMD says it will be out next month to take more samples. Sen. Barbara Boxer is also getting involved, demanding answers on a federal level from the Environmental Protection Agency.

"I feel like when that type of authority is involved, the truth is going to come out," said Parker.


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