PALM SPRINGS (CBS/AP) — One of the state’s most prominent lawmakers wants the federal government to step in and fix the source of a foul odor that has sickened residents in a Southland desert community.

In a blunt letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Sen. Barbara Boxer called for officials to act urgently to save the town of Mecca from seeing more people fall ill.

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District has blamed a waste recycling facility on tribal land just north of Mecca as the source of the stinky fumes.

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The Palm Springs Desert Sun says Boxer, a California Democrat who has a home 25 miles from Mecca in Rancho Mirage, wrote the EPA on Thursday saying the agency must take immediate steps to protect families.

Boxer chairs the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee.

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California Rural Legal Assistance lawyer Megan Beaman says east Coachella Valley residents welcome Boxer’s help.

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