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South Bay : Return to Contaminated Street Delayed

Plans to return former Harbor Gateway residents to a DDT-contaminated neighborhood have been scrapped until at least next year.

The 33 families, who were evacuated from their homes on West 204th Street last April, are demanding that the EPA deem the area unsafe for habitation.

The decision to postpone excavation of the landfill was prompted by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Torrance), who said she was surprised to learn a few weeks ago that the residents were expected to reoccupy the homes.

EPA officials did not promise to drop reoccupation plans permanently. But they said they wanted an opportunity to re-examine two other waste sites nearby--the Del Amo waste pits and the former Montrose Chemical Plant.

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“The EPA doesn’t want to move people back to 204th Street if the residents will have to leave again when the other two sites are cleaned up,” said Eliot Laws, EPA assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response.

Relocated residents and property owners would eventually like to see the EPA tear down the homes in and around the area, so it would become a permanent open space.

“This issue goes a lot further than just our street,” said Cynthia Babich, one of the relocated residents. “We are only starting to find out how far those chemicals have covered the air and water in the area. We’re fighting for our lives.”


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