March 24 — Arvin, CA
For Immediate Releas
Global Community Monitor — Gustavo Aguirre Jr — 661-889-1917
Global Community Monitor — Jessica Hendricks — 707-980-3816
Committee for a Better Arvin — Salvador Partida — 661-854-7000
The Center on Race, Poverty, and the Enviornment — Juan Flores — 661-709-2292
Arvin, CA– Air quality sample revealed high levels of cancer causing benzene in a home on Nelson Court, from the gas pipeline leak. Petro Capital Resources’ gas pipeline ruptured releasing a mix of over 20 toxic chemicals into homes including methane, benzene, n-hexane, heptane, n-octane. It is unclear how long neighbors have been exposed to this mix of chemicals related to gas production.
Elvia Garcia, the owner of the home where the sample was taken, said “I had been smelling gas for up to four years prior, but had no idea where it was coming from. The fumes got so bad in the last few months that my pregnant daughter actually passed out on her way to the bathroom. I am very concerned for the health and safety of my family. Petro Capital needs to be held responsible.”
The sample contained over twenty chemicals including elevated benzene and a mix of total volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The level of total VOCs in the sample collected at 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18th at 1312 Nelson Court in Arvin is 13 times higher than the levels the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) scientists has associated with adverse health impacts.
Residents in the Nelson Court home include a pregnant woman. Children, seniors and pregnant women are considered a vulnerable population, more sensitive to the effects of chemical exposure. Vulnerable populations are also more sensitive to mixtures of chemicals.
According to Dr. Mark Chernaik, who reviewed the data, “There are no U.S. federal indoor air quality standards.” Dr. Chernaik researched a German health based standard for indoor air quality and exposure. Chernaik continued, “I strongly recommend that monitoring be instituted at the affected residences to insure that levels of VOCs decline to below the German Guidance Values.”
Gustavo Aguirre, Jr with Global Community Monitor and the Arvin Bucket Brigade took the air sample indoors at the Nelson Court residence in Arvin, CA.
Aguirre visited a total of five homes in Nelson Court. “All the residents that I visited confirmed that they had smelled the gas for at least 2 to 3 months and were growing concerned with the situation,” said Gustavo Aguirre Jr. of GCM. “Why did it take so long to detect a major gas leak? Why were residents not warned that the levels of gas in their homes had nearly reached explosive levels?” The Arvin Bucket Brigade is a joint project with Committee for A Better Arvin and the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.
According to reports, Petro Capital Resources was unaware of the pipeline location in the community. Kern County and Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources took several days to identify the owner of the pipeline. Officials said they have no idea how long the line was leaking.
Kern County Environmental Health said the line is a field gas line, not natural gas. This basically means it’s a waste oil field gas going to flared, or burned off.
The County recommended to residents to leave their homes last Tuesday morning and returned at 7 pm in the evening with an emergency evacuation for eight homes along Nelson Court. It is unclear what information the County used to change the status of the evacuation.
Residents were not provided with any information about the possible chemical exposure.
According to CBA, “The residents of Arvin living near Nelson Ct., were unaware that this corporation had a pipe under their homes just waiting to explode. This caused a great inconvenience to these residents, for they had to be evacuated from their residence at the risk of losing not only their belongings, but their lives as well, if they were to remain there and this pipe was to explode.”
The Committee for a Better Arvin (CBA) stated that they are here to see that Petro Capital Resources is held responsible for their negligence.
The independent air testing program, known as the “Bucket Brigade,” empowers pollution-affected residents to take scientifically credible samples using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved methods and laboratories.