CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Carson city officials want to declare a local emergency to pressure the state and an oil company into cleaning up a contaminated housing tract.

The Los Angeles Times reports residents have been advised not to eat vegetables or fruit from their yards and to limit contact with soil around 285 homes sitting atop a former Shell Oil tank farm.

Testing in 2008 revealed the soil and groundwater contain benzene and petroleum. Residents blame the contamination for a host of illnesses, including cancer, skin irritation and tumors in their pets.

Cleanup isn’t slated to begin for another year. Recently, a utility company installing phone lines reported digging a hole 3 feet deep to find oil seeping from it.

Carson Mayor Jim Dear introduced a motion to draft emergency legislation, saying there’s no excuse for any further delays after years of investigations.

“On a human level, five years is too long for residents to have to wait and still not know if anything is going to be done to protect their health and economic interests,” Dear said, according to the Times.

The city joined residents in a lawsuit against Shell last year.

Shell spokeswoman Kayla Macke said in a statement that regulatory agencies don’t see an immediate threat to the community.

“We take the protection of the residents and the environment seriously and will continue to provide the necessary resources to remediate the neighborhood,” Macke said.

Dear believes the oil company is stalling in an attempt to limit the scope of the cleanup.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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