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USC Area Residents Say Oil Drilling Facility Is Making Them Sick

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Community residents are campaigning to have a nearby oil drilling facility shut down amid claims its operation is making them sick. Chemical odors, kids' nosebleeds, and few answers continue to plague this South L.A. neighborhood.

California Sen. Barbara Boxer has called for the oil company to stop production at its Los Angeles facility after some residents complained of severe headaches, dizziness and respiratory problems. Sen. Boxer has met with residents in the University Park neighborhood and asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Ginza McCarthy to "immediately address these unacceptable situations using all available and appropriate authorities." Boxer directed EPA officials to respond in writing indicating what steps the EPA will take to address the chemical smells.

Allenco Energy is located in University Park off 23rd Street. Allenco is drilling is near a charter school, an LAUSD high school for disabled adults, Mount Saint Mary’s College and hundreds of residential properties.

A Town Hall meeting was held this week, where residents were armed with concerns and graphic representations of what they say are debilitating symptoms which they feel are linked to the strong odors emanating from the urban oil field. Allenco Energy produces about 80 barrels of oil a day.

Air quality officials say they still do not know if the air contaminants are potentially toxic, but the medically documented health records of residents could support their claims.

Residents say that for years they have endured strong sulfur and gas-like odors and they want the facility to be shut down.

“This is the kind of devastating headache that I have,” one resident at the meeting said. Others complained of nausea, dizziness, confusion and sleep disruption. The South Coast Air Quality Management District says they cited the facility in 2011 for several violations.

As a result, Allenco was forced to upgrade its equipment remove a large portion of their air ducts as a result.

The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled for January, 2014.

Air quality officials say they are conducting intense monitoring and are having scientific samples taken in effort to determine what is going on. Let's hope to have more answers next month.

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