Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called on the AllenCo oil company to cease operations at its oil production facility near USC pending the results of an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I expect AllenCo to do the right thing: discontinue its operations at this facility until the experts deem it safe for the most vulnerable populations,” Boxer said at a press conference on Friday.
Residents in the area say that the company's oil pumping activity is releasing noxious fumes into the neighborhood. Many complain that the fumes are causing them respiratory ailments, headaches and frequent nosebleeds.
The press conference was held directly across the street from the site, and at one point during Boxer's remarks, a chemical odor permeated the area.
"You can smell this smell as I stand here, and it is bad,” Boxer said.
Boxer's office said since 2010, the company quadrupled the amount of oil it pumps at the facility. Since then, residents have submitted hundreds of odor complaints to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).
On September 26, Boxer sent a letter to the EPA, asking the agency to intervene in the matter. In response, EPA officials toured the facility in late October and met with AllenCo and county officials.
Residents said that they hope that the site will close. Alicia Escamilla, who is pregnant and has lived across from the site for about a year-and-a-half, said that she smells fumes every day and worries about the impact it could have on her baby.
AllenCo did not respond to requests for comment.