ARVIN, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Air samples taken around evacuated homes in Arvin show "high levels of cancer causing benzene," an independent environmental advocacy group said Monday.
Eight homes on Nelson Court in Arvin were evacuated after a pipeline leak led to fumes and contaminated soil. Work is underway to extract gas vapors that may have seeped into the soil underneath the homes.
The pipeline belongs to Petro Capital Resources.
Monday, Global Community Monitor released its independent findings of air quality in the homes. The group said the owner of one affected home said she had been smelling gas for up to four years.
Global Community Monitor said the air sample, collected at 6:50 p.m. on March 18, contained over 20 chemicals, including elevated benzene and a mix of total volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
The level of total VOCs is 13 times higher than the levels the Environmental Protection Agency has associated with adverse health impacts, the group said.
According to the Kern County Fire Department, the broken pipeline has since been shut down. But, officials have not said when the environment will be safe enough for families to return to their homes.
Advanced GeoEnvironmental Inc., will continue to work throughout the week on completing the installation of the vapor-extraction equipment. In the meantime, a short-term vapor mitigation system has been installed and will continue to run 24 hours a day to remove hazardous gases in the soil.
Kern County Environmental Health Services Department has not released updated air-quality results. Advanced GeoEnvironmental and county environmental health will continue to monitor all eight homes both inside and out until no flammable gases are found, the fire department said Monday.