Oil facility tied to noxious South LA fumes suspends operations but doesn't admit to being cause

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An oil company at the heart of an investigation into noxious fumes wafting through a South Los Angeles neighborhood agreed to suspend operations Friday, and a spokesman for the company spoke with KPCC Saturday.

"They're not admitting to anything. Their commitment is working to find out what it is, if it truly can be identified from a scientific perspective," said AllenCo spokesman Peter Whittingham. He said that, if a problem is found at AllenCo, they will take the steps to fix any equipment or processes that are causing or contributing to the problem.

Residents have long complained that noxious fumes from the AllenCo facility near USC have been responsible for causing respiratory problems, headaches, nausea and frequent nosebleeds.

"[The company wants] to make sure that nothing they are doing is in any way of concern or injurious to the neighbors," said AllenCo spokesman Peter Whittingham, "and so they thought it would be most responsible as a member of that community, and a business in the community, to go ahead and shut down their operations and allow for continued analysis."

Whittingham said that the company was actually producing less fuel than the facility, open since 1967, had under previous operators — 80 barrels of oil a day, compared to a high point of 750 barrels a day. He added that AllenCo also upgraded the facility and equipment when they moved in, so they were puzzled why there were so many complaints now.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said local residents are not the only ones who felt the effects. 

"When I went out there, I smelled that odor, my staff got ill. The Environmental Protection Agency that I asked go look at the site — those investigators got ill. So clearly this had to shut down," Boxer said.

Boxer said the oil facility will remain closed until environmental officials say it's safe for the public.

With contributions from Nick Roman and KPCC staff

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