Toxic Living: California Neighbors Sue After Finding Homes Were Built on Oil-Saturated Soil

Valdes said he also wants Shell to pay for health insurance for the rest of his daughters' lives. Alexa, 3, he said, often indicates a headache by pointing to her head and tells her father she "has a heart-beep" in her head.

Lourdes and Dominic Piazza are also looking for a way out of Carousel. For years, Lourdes Piazza has been plagued by crippling migraines, she said, and anemia so severe that the high doses of iron treatments ravaged her stomach and intestines.

"I'm just really scared that me or one of my family members ends up with cancer someday," Piazza said. "I feel that Shell has ruined our lives. They've ruined my life here, they've ruined my neighbors lives. We've had our dreams... They've destroyed them."

Soil experts found some of the highest concentrations of benzene under the Piazza's front yard. Their view out their living room window last week was that of a backhoe, caution tape and workers who were careful to put on gloves anytime they were forced to come in direct contact with the dirt.

A jelly jar containing a mini oil slick was collected there as evidence.

Carousel Resident: 'I Want Out Now'

For Royalene and Bernard Fernandez, they want to make sure the next generation of their family fares better than Royalene. Their youngest son Christopher had such strong ties to the neighborhood where he was raised, he bought a house there himself in the 1990s, where he still lives with his wife.

"We bought in good faith the house, thought we were doing the best for our family. And then to find out that many years later, 30 some years later, that we shouldn't have bought there," Fernandez said. "Life would have been a lot different."

Residents are now waiting for further test results, including air samples to determine how much benzene and methane they are breathing.

City officials said that each house will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, though it's entirely possible the entire neighborhood may have to be razed.

"It's really like psychological torture for the residents there to not know. The uncertainty is so disconcerting," Carson Mayor Jim Dear said. "This contamination needs to be determined to what degree it is and then I think remediation or removal of the homes has to be done as soon as possible."

For it's part, Shell said remedial options would depend on further testing.

"Appropriate options must be driven by science, regulatory standards and protection of public health and environment," the company said in its statement.

But as soon as possible is not soon enough for Lourdes Piazza.

"I'm desperate and I want out. And I want out now," she said, bursting into tears. "Not a year or two for now. I want out now."

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