Black tar-like substance oozing from ground in Lake Elsinore has residents baffled

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- A black and sticky tar-like substance has residents in one Lake Elsinore neighborhood trying to determine where it is coming from.

"I come out here everyday and look. It started out a couple of blobs here and there, and we were gone for two days and when I came back out, this was right along in here and it just keeps oozing this way," said Mario Maldonado.

The black material is just behind Maldonado's backyard. He said shortly after a Valentine's Day storm, he noticed the ground began to ooze.

"After we had the rain, the last set of rains it eroded all the banks here, and this started coming out because it was buried at some point," said Maldonado.

He and his neighbors believe an old farm container buried long ago when the area was covered in walnut groves cracked open, causing the substance to leak out.

Maldonado says on Wednesday, a health specialist with the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health came out to collect samples.

"I think at this point, he was looking at how to get rid of it and find out what chemicals are in here," he said.

A spokesperson with Riverside County told Eyewitness News that several county and state agencies are coordinating their efforts to identify the source of the substance and who is responsible for removing it.

In the meantime, the county's Flood Control District has stopped pumping water into the wash for Leach Canyon dam to prevent water from touching the substance and moving it down stream into the lake.

Maldonado and his neighbors want a solution.

"I don't know what we are going to do to get rid of it at this point," said Maldonado.
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