Former residents of the Ujima Village housing complex are still wondering what impact exposure to benzene and other contaminants will have on their future health.
The housing complex, which was originally built in the 1970s, was ordered to close in 2008 by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Board began investigating the complex in 2007 after a number of soil and groundwater tests revealed potential contamination at the site. Los Angeles County, which owned the property, was attempting to sell it to developers but the deal fell through when the tests revealed pollutants including crude oil and gas.
Tests performed by the Water Quality Control Board indicated that benzene levels in the ground and water surrounding Ujima Village were significantly higher than allowed under the state health code. Residents were ordered to leave and the complex was eventually vacated in August 2010. Many of the families who relocated had lived in Ujima Village for decades before the potential contamination issues came to light.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, the land where Ujima Village is located served as an oil tank storage facility owned by the ExxonMobil company. It’s believed that when developers began constructing the housing complex, they were unaware that Exxon had failed to remove all hazardous materials from the area.
A class action lawsuit has since been filed against Exxon and Los Angeles County on behalf of over 1,000 former Ujima Village residents who claim that exposure to benzene and other chemicals has severely compromised their health. Specifically, the plaintiffs believe that toxic exposure has caused a number of serious health conditions, including asthma, skin disorders, respiratory problems, miscarriages and various forms of cancer. At least 38 deaths have been attributed to the presence of benzene and other contaminants in the soil and water at the site.
The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of compensation for medical bills, back rent, various injuries and wrongful death. Los Angeles County officials claim that more recent soil and groundwater tests indicate that the level of pollution is consistent with that of other areas of L.A. County and that there is no ongoing threat.
While the outcome of the case remains uncertain, former residents are hoping that by voicing their concerns, they will prevent similar situations in other communities. They have also expressed concern as to why the L.A. County Department of Public Health has failed to assess the health of those who used to live in Ujima Village.
This case is an excellent example of how people’s health can be unknowingly compromised. Should a judge determine that ExxonMobil and/ or Los Angeles County contributed to the plaintiffs’ illnesses through negligent actions, they may have to pay millions of dollars to the victims who were affected.
If you or a loved one has developed a serious health condition after being exposed to benzene or another toxic chemical, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away. The law firm of Nadrich & Cohen specializes in assisting individuals who suffer the side effects of toxic chemical exposure get the compensation they deserve.
Call our Injury Hotline today at 1-800-722-0765 or visit our online Benzene Resource Center to schedule your free initial case evaluation. There is never a fee unless we recover a money judgment on your behalf. Call Nadrich & Cohen today to get the experienced legal help you need to prove your benzene exposure case.