Vapor Intrusion Experts. Soil and Groundwater Experts. Contamination Consultants.

220 West Gutierrez Street. Santa Barbara, CA 93101  |  (805) 880-9302

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Los Angeles Oil Fields
Oil Derricks in the Signal Hill area of Los Angeles

Have you ever noticed stained soils when gardening? Do you experience unexplained odors of oil or gas in your home or yard? Do you or your family experience skin rashes or respiratory ailments after working or playing in your yard, school or park? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, we would appreciate hearing from you because you may live over an unremediated, legacy oil production or storage facility. Please contact us here or call Jim Wells, PhD at 805-880-9302. Thank you!

We are conducting research to identify forgotten petroleum legacy sites in the greater Los Angeles area to help California environmental agencies insure these sites are properly cleaned up and that current residents are safe from exposure to toxic chemicals in soil and groundwater.

Many Californians do not realize that our state was a major center of the young petroleum industry in the 1920s and 1930s. While there are still a few productive oil fields in southern California, in the decades before World War II, thousands of oil wells once dotted the beaches and hills of southern California. There were also huge petroleum storage reservoirs, especially near the oil fields and the early refineries in Torrance and Wilmington. 

Historical Oil Storage Facilities in Carson, CA
1952 Aerial Photograph of Historical Oil Storage Facilities in Carson, CA. The largest reservoirs shown here held 84,000,000 gallons of oil.

While many of these sites have been cleaned up, others have been neglected due to poor record-keeping and a general lack of environmental awareness when the sites were being redeveloped (often in the 1950s and 1960s) for residential or commercial use. 

One former oil storage site is now known as the Carousel residential tract in Carson, California. Until a few years ago, environmental officials were apparently unaware that this neighborhood of 285 homes once housed massive reservoirs made with 20-foot high earthen berms, each holding up to 84 million gallons of oil. Investigators eventually discovered pervasive soil and groundwater contamination largely because of decades of leaks in the floors of the reservoirs and because soil from the oil-saturated earthen berms was subsequently spread across the site as part of the grading process in preparation for residential redevelopment. 

This contamination posed a substantial threat to the residents' health and threatened to reduce property values. Eventually, the oil companies responsible for these problems were identified and--partly due to legal action by the homeowners--a multi-million dollar cleanup is now underway and the homeowners were compensated for damages.