The community formed the Del Amo Action Committee in 1994 to inform the neighborhood about their contaminated environment. The neighborhood is located in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles neglected by authorities for the last 50 years. The area adjacent to our community has been used for industrial developments with no consideration or regard to nearby neighborhoods. Besides the native animal species in danger, the neighborhood is comprised of blue-collar workers, immigrants, African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities who are established in the area, in some cases for generations. Most of the people residing in the area are of scarce resources, and have experienced language barriers.
The community soon discovered that if we did not get actively involved in the care of our environment, no one else would. We are trying to make up for the abuse that our community has suffered from the indiscriminate exploitation by corporations driven by greed. The Del Amo Action Committee promotes the empowering of our residents through information on environmental preservation, as well as, environmental contamination. We wish to teach skills which will enhance our quality of life and minimize future exposure to toxins in the environment.
Due to the exposure to contaminants in the area, some have become over sensitive to chemicals, and others have developed health conditions, which at this point have not been linked to what the sources are. We have realized that if we do nothing about the problem of contamination and hazardous waste disposal, it may become only a matter of time before the world population starts becoming as ill as we are. Many fear an early death due to cancer. We have documented several cases of different types of the deadly disease. Women in our community have been plagued with uterine tumors, infertility, miscarriages and cervical cancers.
In addition to our health and toxic contamination problems, we are also facing social economic problems. With the buyout of 65 homes in our neighborhood in 1999, and due to their proximity to the Del Amo Superfund Site, the remaining residents have lost interest in their community. Many long-term residents see no other option but to sell their homes or rent them out. This has caused an increase in gang and drug activity in our neighborhood; due to the lack of after school youth programs, our youth have turned to the streets.
We have made some beneficial alliances with other neighborhoods, Federal and State Agencies, health advocacy collaborations, non-profit groups, as well as many dedicated individuals. We know we are all in this together and together we must make changes.
This Committee is dedicated to being part of the solution and seeks equal justice for all, not just a selected group. We want to live and work for the betterment of our society. We want to be able to teach our children how to continue with our mission for a clean and healthy environment. We face this crisis together and with empowerment from each other we will be successful in our quest! This Committee strives to work with everyone concerned, including those responsible for the contamination. We believe this should be taken a step further, and through the community’s participation, we propose that the industries should learn a proper protocol in sharing areas that are near our communities.
We have learned a tremendous amount and still have a lot more to learn. These problems unfortunately will not disappear, and it is those of us affected by this contamination that must take charge of our own fate. We must provide input and make decisions to guide the agencies and others in charge now. They definitely need the help, help only we can provide, as we live with this contamination everyday and we are the experts at this point.
Our Area of Focus
The Del Amo area sits on top of the toxic remains of a World War II industrial complex. We are located in unincorporated Harbor Gateway between the cities of Torrance, West Carson, Gardena and Harbor City. CalEnvrioScreen, a tool used to estimate the pollution burden in communities, ranked our community focus area in the top 20% of most burdened communities in the state. Our focus area has two federal superfund sites (Del Amo and Montrose); one state designated superfund site, Armco Land Reclamation Site (Royal Blvd.); Jones Chemical, a chlorine transfer station; the Torrance/Mobil refinery; Dow Chemical Plastics Manufacturing Plant; 405 and 110 freeways; several landfills; and has several cancer causing chemicals such as benzene, TCE, DDT and others in the air, soil and groundwater beneath our homes.