Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

EPA digs up hazardous relics of the LA Riots in Compton

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Twenty years ago, during the L.A. Riots, a Compton gas station burned to the ground and was abandoned. But the bones of Kim’s ARCO AM-PM Minimarket remain. Today the EPA is digging up three nasty big parts of the old filling station: 10,000 gallon underground storage tanks.

Abandoned underground storage tanks are everywhere in this country. I mean everywhere: they’re somewhat of a relic of the past, but we’ve still got nearly 600,000 nationwide. And our state is no exception. California’s got around 6% of that total, but around 9% of the backlogged tanks that need cleanup. And only about 2/3 of active underground tanks in California meet requirements for detecting and preventing spills of hazardous waste--mostly oil.

What’s also interesting is that the E.P.A. is linking this project to its Region 9 environmental justice efforts.

The 710 Corridor is a special focus for the E.P.A., and underground storage tanks are part of the goals:

In partnership with state and local agencies, evaluate the leaking underground storage tank universe in the I-710 corridor to identify opportunities for use of federal Brownfields and Leaking Underground Storage Tank funding to conduct assessment and cleanup activities. Conduct field assessments at three to six of the highest priority sites by the end of 2012.

Los Angeles County Public Works and the City of Compton helped identify the site. Take a look at the “before” picture from EPA, above. What struck me about the site is that I see plenty of abandoned gas stations in this region. Some may have been abandoned after the L.A. Riots, and perhaps in keeping with safe standards. But the point is underground storage tanks are everywhere--still. 


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