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Residents protest contaminated facility in their neighborhood

Community in uproar over contaminated...

BRAWLEY, Calif. -  

Brawley residents staged a rally and protest on Thursday over a contaminated facility that’s just feet away from their homes.

Dozens of Brawley residents gathered right at the old PureGro chemicals facility, owned and operated by Chevron Company, located at Cesar Chavez Street and River Drive.

Brawley resident Jerry Gauna said, “The plant’s been removed and the dirt is still there, contaminated dirt. The wind blows, it blows all over. There’s a history of cancer all over this neighborhood. And i went to collect all these signatures, and the people, and talk to them, and they all signed it. They want to get rid of it.”

Raymundo Larios, who lives just across the street from the facility, blamed it for cancer afflicting his family.

“I’ve had bone cancer for about six or seven years. My wife has had it for ten or twelve years,” Larios said.

Humberto Lugo Martinez grew up near the facility. He said it closed 18 ago, but the ground in the area is contaminated and it affects the community.

“Which created, actually manufactured fertilizers, pesticides and some of the most hazardous pesticides in the world like DDT, DDE and other chemicals that were the worst of the worst in the environment. Some of these chemicals were banned in the eighties,” Martinez said.

Protesters said the community stands united on this issue..

“These signatures are all from the area that live around here. So, I went to every house. Knocked door to door. Three hundred,” Gauna said, showing off a clipboard papers bearing hundreds of signatures.

Imperial County District 5 Supervisor Ray Castillo said he was concerned about state encasement plans.

“There’s a meeting tonight to discuss with the public the options,” Castillo said.

During Thursday’s public meeting at the Brawley Del Rio Public Library, officials from the Department of Toxic Substances Control listened to the public which crowded the center. They scrapped their prepared plans to encase the facility once it became clear to them that the public was against that idea.

“We proposed a plan which we’re finding now is not acceptable to the community. So, what we want to do is we want to work with the city, the city’s leaders, community leaders, to come up with a solution for this site that is acceptable to everyone,” DTSC Official John Scandura said.

DTSC officials said negotiations and talks with Brawley community will continue for another month.


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